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How to make a complaint about medical negligence

If you are not happy with the medical services that you or a family member received under the NHS or privately, such as receiving inadequate or needless medical treatment, you have the right to have your concerns investigated and to be given a full and prompt response by the treating body.

When making a complaint you need to ensure you apply the correct procedure as prescribed by the NHS, or private body.

Depending on where you received treatment, complaint procedures will vary between NHS services and countries. You can choose to make a complaint in writing, by email or by speaking to the service. If you choose to speak to the service, they may be able to resolve your complaint or concern without requiring you to go through the formal complains process, which is also known as a local resolution.

If you don’t feel comfortable raising your concerns directly or your issue was not resolved, then you can choose to make a full formal complaint following the complaints process.

Making a complaint – NHS ENGLAND

Who can I make a complaint with?

You can make a complaint with either the healthcare provider or the commissioner. The healthcare provider will be the organisation where you received the NHS service, for example, your hospital or doctors surgery. The commissioner is the organisation that pays for the service or care that you have received, and is dependent on the NHS service that you are complaining about.

Who can complain?

  • The person affected by the incident
  • A family member
  • A parent (for children under 16)
  • A friend
  • Another body, such as NHS Advocacy, which will assist with your complaints process by helping you to write a letter, attend a meeting with you, or explaining the options available to you

You will usually need to give your permission for someone to complain on your behalf.

If you are complaining on behalf of a family member who cannot personally complain as they are too ill to do so or are mentally incapacitated, the NHS body must decide if you are a suitable representative to make a complaint.

Are There Time Limits?

Your complaint should be made:

  • No later than 12 months after the event(s), or
  • No later than 12 months from the date that you were first made aware of the issues

You should, however, make your complaint as soon as possible as recollection of events may wane with the passage of time. NHS organisations may consider complaints outside these time limits and can take into account aspects such as the length of your illness.

Acknowledgement and response to your complaint

You must receive an acknowledgement of your complaint within three working days, and at the end of the investigation you should receive a formal written response.

The first stage of this is called local resolution, where the NHS body or family health service practice is required to investigate and respond to your complaint.

Unhappy with the response to your complaint

If you are not satisfied with the response to your complaint, you have the right to request an independent review of your complaint by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

If you have attempted local resolution and are not happy with the result, or the organisation you have complained about has not completed its investigation within six months, you have the right to ask for an independent review of your complaint.

You should make a request for an independent review within 12 months of the incident in question occurring or when you first became aware that something had gone wrong.

You should try to abide by this time limit but if it is not possible it is always a good idea to ask the Ombudsman to consider your request, particularly if you have a good reason for the delay such as trying to obtain other advice.

In order to assist you in writing your complaint we provide a sample letter of complaint.

Making a complaint – NHS WALES

Since April 2011 the NHS Complaints Procedure in Wales has been replaced by a new system called Putting Things Right. A complaint under this new system is defined as a ‘concern’.

Time limits

Your concern should be raised within 12 months of the event(s).
If more than 12 months have elapsed, if there are valid reasons for the delay, such as coping with a bereavement or illness, they may still agree to investigate your concerns.

Acknowledgement and response to your concern

You should receive an acknowledgement that your concern has been received within 2 working days.

Unhappy with the response to your concern

If you are not satisfied with the response to your concern, you have the right to request an independent review of your complaint by the Public Service Ombudsman Wales.

In order to assist you in writing your complaint we provide a sample letter of complaint.

Making a complaint – Private hospital/clinic

The complaints procedure should follow the same pattern as with NHS complaints. First of all attempt local resolution by speaking or writing to the organisation concerned. If there is a head office for the company running the hospital or clinic; it is a good idea to copy your complaint to the chief executive there.

Make a formal complaint to the hospital or clinic (ask for details of their complaints procedure, which should be similar to that used by the NHS). ISCAS (The Independent Healthcare Sector Complaints Adjudication Service) has a code of practice for handling patients’ complaints; however this will only apply to private healthcare providers who are members of the ISCAS or to patients treated by an Independent Doctors Federation Member.

Further details can be found at the webpages listed:

Time limits

Complaints usually should be made as soon as possible within six months of the incident complained of or within six months of becoming aware that you had cause to complain. Providers may consider complaints outside this period but you would have to provide them with a good reason such as ill health.

Acknowledgement and response to your complaint

In accordance with the Independent Doctors Federation code of practice, they are required to investigate your complaint and provide you with a full and detailed response.

Unhappy with the response to your complaint

If for any reason you are unable to get the private health provider to respond to a complaint, or if you are unhappy with their response, you can make a complaint to the Care Quality Commission, (or the equivalent body in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) the body now responsible for regulating private healthcare providers.

If the issue is about an individual health professional’s fitness to practice, make a complaint to the relevant professional regulating body such as the General Medical Council (for doctors) or Nursing and Midwifery Council.
In order to assist you in writing your complaint we provide a sample letter of complaint.

REQUESTING MEDICAL RECORDS

If you are not happy with the medical treatment that you or a family member received, you are entitled to request a copy of your / your family member’s medical records.

A summary of actions you need to take is provided for you:

Requesting medical records

SUMMARY OF USEFUL WEBSITES

Our Medical Negligence Solicitors are backed by four decades of experience and have a strong track record of achieving favourable client outcomes. For expert legal advice use our online contact form or call us on 0800 437 0322 today.

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