I greatly value the work of the NHS and its staff, but sometimes things do go wrong and when dealing with a person’s health, mistakes can have disastrous consequences.
Making a complaint depends on the person or organisation responsible, but below are outlined the most common complaints that have been reported to me and how you can go about complaining about them.
You may also want to seek legal advice, especially in cases on medical negligence, depending on the severity of your complaint.
Complaint about St Helier Hospital
If you want to make a complaint about St Helier Hospital, then your first port of all will be the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS), which you can contact in the following ways:
Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust
020 8296 2508
If you remain unsatisfied with their response, then you can escalate your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) here: http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/.
Where your complaint related to a particular doctor, nurse or other individual healthcare professional in the hospital, see the ‘Complaint about an individual healthcare professional’ section below.
Complaint about another Hospital
Each hospital will come under a particular NHS Trust and will also have details of their own complaints procedure on their websites. If you struggle to find these details, then get in touch.
Complaint about your local GP
It can be confusing to work out who is responsible and who you can raise your concerns with. Most GPs are not employed directly by the NHS. They have a contract to provide NHS services. They employ their own staff and therefore if you have concerns about a member of staff at the GP surgery, you can complain to the GP who employs them. GPs aren’t usually responsible for out-of-hours services.
At every GP surgery, there has to be a procedure to deal with complaints, and someone who is responsible for dealing with complaints, so that will be your first point of contact. If their response does not resolve the situation, you can ask for details of how to escalate the complaint.
If you’re complaint is about out-of-hour services, then the Sutton Clinical commissioning group (CCG) will be your point of contact as they buy or commission out-of-hour services on behalf of individual GP surgeries. These services are usually provided by another organisation, but sometimes they could be provided by your GP. If you have a concern about out-of-hours services, you could make your complaint either directly to the out-of-hours provider or to the CCG here: http://www.suttonccg.nhs.uk/Contact-us/Pages/Comments,-compliments-and-complaints.aspx.
Where your complaint related to a particular doctor, nurse or other individual healthcare professional in the GP Surgery, see the ‘Complaint about an individual healthcare professional’ section below.
Complaint about CAMHS
The Sutton Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) falls under the South West London and St George’s (SWLSG) Mental Health NHS Trust, so you will need to make a complaint via their PALS team first here: http://www.swlstg-tr.nhs.uk/contact-us/complaints.
You can always escalate your complaint to the PHSO if their response is unsatisfactory.
Complaint about other NHS services
Who might you need to complain about
The following list contains just some examples of professionals who provide NHS services:
- nurses, including community and family nurses
- health visitors
- occupational therapists
- speech therapists
- ambulance staff and paramedics
- sexual health professionals
- professionals working in preventative care, for example, stop smoking clinics
- healthcare professionals working in prisons.
Remember that you can make a complaint about anyone working in the NHS, even if they aren’t in the list above.
The rules about making a complaint apply to NHS bodies or other organisations who have a contact to provide NHS services. If you have a concern, you can raise it directly with whoever is providing the service. Or you could raise it with whoever buys or commissions the service. It isn’t always easy to know exactly who commissions these services, and therefore who is responsible for them.
Who commissions NHS services?
Clinical commissioning groups
A clinical commissioning group (CCG) is responsible for commissioning:
- community health services such as speech and language therapy, wheelchair services and home oxygen services (but not public health services such as health visiting and family nursing)
- ambulance services
- maternity and new-born services
- children’s healthcare services
- services for people with learning disabilities
- NHS continuing healthcare for most people (but not for prisoners or people serving in the armed forces)
- infertility services for most people (but not for prisoners or people serving in the armed forces).
If your complaint relates to any of these services, then you can complain to Sutton CCG here: http://www.suttonccg.nhs.uk/Contact-us/Pages/Comments,-compliments-and-complaints.aspx.
Here are some of the things that NHS England is responsible for commissioning:
- primary care
- public health services for women who are pregnant and for children aged 0 to 5. This includes health visiting
- ante-natal and newborn screening services
- immunisation programmes
- health services for people in prison and people serving in the armed forces and their families
- pharmaceutical services provided by community pharmacy services
- primary ophthalmic services, NHS sight tests and optical vouchers
- sexual assault referral services.
If your complaint relates to any of these services, then you can complain to NHS England here: https://www.england.nhs.uk/contact-us/complaint/complaining-to-nhse/.
The local authority (Sutton Council)
The local authority is responsible for commissioning certain health services, for example:
- the healthy child programme for school-age children, including school nursing
- sexual health services, for example, sexual health advice and the testing and treatment of sexually-transmitted diseases
- drug and alcohol misuse services, including prevention and treatment
- stop smoking services.
If you want to raise concerns or provide feedback about your local public health services, you can complain directly to whoever is providing the service or you can contact the Director of Public Health, Dr Nicola Lang by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Complaint about an individual healthcare professional
Each individual healthcare professional that looks after you must provide a good standard of care. This is a legal duty and it’s also required by the regulatory body of the professional. In the case of a doctor, this is the General Medical Council and in the case of a nurse at your GP’s surgery this is the Nursing and Midwifery Council. This means you can take action against an individual GP or other healthcare professional if they don’t provide this standard of care.
You can raise a complaint about a doctor here: http://www.gmc-uk.org/concerns/23339.asp.
You can raise a complaint about a nurse of midwife here: https://www.nmc.org.uk/concerns-nurses-midwives/concerns-complaints-and-referrals/.