NHS Complaints

The clocks have gone back and November is upon us.  Which means Xmas is just around the corner.  It also means that the National Health Service is facing its busiest time of year.

In July 1945 the founders of the NHS had three simple aims in mind when determining its core principles namely that it should:

·       meet the needs of everyone
·       be free at the point of delivery
·       be based on clinical need, not ability to pay

The simplicity of these statements contrasts dramatically with the enormous complexity of the circumstances which apply to health care provision today.  It is also true that today, there are more opportunities to eat unhealthily than there were in 1945 as well as lifestyle choices which involve less exercise.

We can all also make a long term investment in our NHS by taking regular exercise (however little) and following a healthy balanced diet.   You may find some advice regarding what is healthy to eat confusing.  However we all know what exercise looks like and most of us would benefit from more of it whatever our limitations – literally one step at a time.

In spite of the huge advances made in treatments available and the dedication of the vast majority of NHS staff it is inevitable that patients will have cause to complain from time to time.  So, what procedure should you follow if you have a complaint to make about the way in which the NHS has treated you?  Claims for financial compensation must be dealt with through legal proceedings and are outside the remit of complaints procedures.

In all cases, the first stage of the procedure is to make a complaint to the practitioner concerned. Some of the larger health centres also have a complaints manager. While this is less likely in a small GP or dental practice for example all NHS practices must nominate an individual who is responsible for dealing with complaints

HealthWatch Surrey could also help.  Part of the HealthWatch England network, it is an independent organisation which is intended to give the people of Surrey a voice to improve and shape health and social care services across the county. It can also provide advice and support to make complaints about the health service and social care. HealthWatch is also happy to receive people’s stories of their good experiences of the NHS.  For more details on HealthWatch go to https://www.healthwatchsurrey.co.uk/about-us/ or call 0303 303 0023.

If your complaint is against an NHS hospital the Patient Advice and Liaison Services (PALS) at the hospital could also help. Although they can’t take up formal complaints, PALS can give general advice on complaints procedures and may be able to sort out some less serious complaints by informal negotiation.

You can also talk to your local Citizens Advice and get information and advice on complaints against the NHS as well as on Benefits, Work, Consumer Issues, Relationships, Housing, Law and Rights, Education, Discrimination, Tax and Healthcare in general by:

  • calling 0344 848 7969 to speak to an assessor or make an appointment to talk to an adviser face-to face. (calls to this service cost the same as calling 01 and 02 numbers included as part of a mobile allowance or a landline call package.
  • visiting https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ to access our comprehensive range of information and advice,
  • or follow us on https://twitter.com/waverleycab
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