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Making a complaint – Private clinic / hospital

If you are unhappy about treatment you have received in a private hospital or clinic, it is your right to make a complaint to the private hospital or clinic about this and have the matter investigated in a similar way to an NHS complaint and receive a full and prompt response to your complaint.

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:

Requesting Medical Records

To request private hospital records, write to the private hospital involved, addressing your letter to the Medical Records Manager/Access to Health Records Team.

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.