Nobody would tolerate things going wrong or mistakes being made while his loved ones are receiving medical attention, regardless of whether the problem is serious or mild. Such mistakes can result in serious health related ramifications. In fact, most people would be very quick to anger if something like this was to happen which would naturally result in some aggressive complaints.
Moreover, such complaints would be justified because mistakes in the medical profession can lead to loss of life or even the loss of earning capability not to mention the considerable pain they can cause. If you feel that you or your loved ones have been wronged or have suffered due to mistakes being made while seeking medical attention, then you have every right to file NHS complaints for the same but first you need to understand what the NHS is and how its complaints system functions.
What Is NHS?
There are four healthcare systems that are known as NHS or National Health Service. These are the National Health Service (England), the Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland, NHS Scotland, and NHS Wales. Even though they all are colloquially referred to as NHS, technically, only the National Health Service (England) qualifies to be given this acronym. Each of them is maintained by their respective governments even though people from other regions in the country can go to the healthcare systems being handled by other governments. The purpose of the NHS is fairly simple in that it looks to provide quality healthcare services to the residents of the United Kingdom for free. In fact, even internationals or people in UK who do not hold the country’s citizenship can access these services in emergencies situations.
Where Can You File Your NHS Complaints?
Despite the high standards of the NHS and its rich history, people can still have complaints about the service. Moreover, in the last few years, NHS complaints have increasingly grown in number which shows a decline in the quality of services being offered. The more common complaints include poor conduct of doctors (behaviour bordering on intimidation and rudeness), inadequate remedies being provided (simple lack of quality of treatment and medications), lack of courtesy for patients (doctors and staff being rude and not following proper bedside etiquettes towards their patients and their respective family members), and even summary removal of people from required treatment rosters owing to disagreements.
While it is likely that your complaints may also qualify in one or more of these categories, it is also possible that you have faced situations that are completely different from them. If you NHS complaints that you think are severe enough then it is your right by the NHS constitution to complain and seek resolution. Ideally, you should complain first to the service provider who you are dealing with and give them a chance to resolve the complaint internally. If the result is not satisfactory then you can approach NHS England or the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), depending upon the nature of your complaints. You should make sure that your complaints are filed within 12 months of the problem arising or they will not be eligible enough for these organisations to consider them.
How Should Your NHS Complaints Be Dealt?
Apart from the right to file NHS complaints, the NHS constitution also affords other rights to people. These rights have an influence on how complaints should ideally be handled. Once your complaint is filed, it will be investigated and you have the right to know the results of this investigation. If you are unhappy with the resolution then you also have the right to escalate the complaint by approaching the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman or even ask for a judicial review to be conducted. In addition, your rights also mean that you can receive recompense for physical or mental damage caused by the mistake.
Do You Need Third Party Support For NHS Complaints?
Sometimes, it is possible for the complaint to be complex enough for you to need professional help. There are various options open to you if you need expert help with your complaints procedure. The following are some organisations you can approach for help.
- Patient Advice and Liaison Service: Offices from this service can be found at all hospitals and can be approached freely.
- NHS Complaints Independent Advocacy Service: Local authorities provide legal counsel through this service to individuals with complaints.
- Citizens Advice Bureau: This bureau can be very useful in both support and information while filing complaints.
- NHS Direct: This organisation can be reached by phone and exists solely to help complainants.
Ensuring That Your NHS Complaints Are Heard
The trick to having your complaints resolved in the right manner is to present them properly. It is understandable if you feel aggrieved about the mistake made by the doctor or the medical institution but you need to ensure that your approach is measured and objective in nature. Instead of citing your emotional turmoil or opinions, you should look to demand resolution on the basis of facts and rules. In the majority of cases, NHS rules favour the citizens. You should also look to make sure that you have documentation of every little aspect of your dealings with the specific doctor or medical institution.
Such documentation will help you make your case better because it would prevent confusion and possible denial of events. Since you will want everything documented, you should make sure that you file formal NHS complaints by writing a complaints letter. Before you write complaints letters, you should make sure that you have learned how to structure them and use the right tone. In most cases, your problems should be resolved amicably but if they do not then can approach the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman for support. This is a neutral organisation devoted to the proper functioning of the NHS. Effectively, it will always look to be impartial in resolving NHS complaints.