How to complain about medical care

How to complain about medical care

advice about how to complainHere is information about how to complain when you are not satisfied with your medical care.Complaining about your care may seem daunting, but you are more than entitled to ask questions about your care.

You can go through the complaints procedure by yourself, as you do not need a solicitor. You may have already spoken to a solicitor, but it really is best not to mention that you have consulted a solicitor, as the person to whom you are complaining may be more open during the complaints process if you do not mention solicitors, nor ‘

You can go through the complaints procedure by yourself, as you do not need a solicitor. You may have already spoken to a solicitor, but it really is best not to mention that you have consulted a solicitor, as the person to whom you are complaining may be more open during the complaints process if you do not mention solicitors, nor ‘

You can go through the complaints procedure by yourself, as you do not need a solicitor. You may have already spoken to a solicitor, but it really is best not to mention that you have consulted a solicitor, as the person to whom you are complaining may be more open during the complaints process if you do not mention solicitors, nor ‘

Complaining about your care may seem daunting, but you are more than entitled to ask questions about your care.  You can go through the complaints procedure by yourself, as you do not need a solicitor. You may have already spoken to a solicitor, but it really is best not to mention that you have consulted a solicitor, as the person to whom you are complaining may be more open during the complaints process if you do not mention solicitors, nor ‘claiming compensation’.

If you have struggled financially as a result of poor care, you may well be considering a claim for compensation, and that is perfectly understandable, but it is best to just to talk in terms of your ‘complaint’ about your care  at this stage. Just try to be a little careful with the way you express yourself at this point, in spite of how understandably aggrieved you may be feeling. At the end of the day, if you put someone on the defensive, it probably won’t be a good start to what should be a process where the care provider takes a (hopefully) objective look at what they have done for you in the spirit of giving you an open, honest explanation and possibly also an apology.

If a GP/Dentist/Optician/Pharmacist is involved

Most surgeries have information about how complaints can be made.  The first thing for you to do would be to contact your surgery and ask for this information.  The complaints procedure will probably deal with both verbal and written complaints.  However, it is best to make a written complaint and keep a copy for your own records. Usually, you would address this to a Practice Manager. If you keep a copy this is something a lawyer can see later, rather than relying on a verbal account of what has been said. If you are not a natural letter writer then see the contact details below for ICAS who can help you, or contact our firm for help. We will either help, or point you in the right direction.

The surgery will then investigate your complaint.  You should receive a written response, to resolve the complaint, within 10 working days of your complaint being made.  If you do not do so, you can telephone, or write to the surgery again. If your complaint is going to take longer than 10 working days to investigate then you should be informed of this.  The written response you receive should include an explanation of what happened and let you know if they suggest a meeting.

The surgery may invite you to attend a meeting.  It is preferable that a written response is provided to a complaint as we can read that and advise you further.  Do be aware that you are not obliged to attend a meeting and you may have no wish to do so. You can insist on a written response. However, if you do wish to attend a meeting, try to take someone with you who can take paper and pen and make notes of what is said. You may think you will remember, but it is easy to get lost in the moment!

The reason our team much prefers a written complaint response is that this is something we can read later, recorded in black and white, upon which it is then easier to advise you. If you have someone who can act as a really good note taker at the meeting on your behalf and you particularly want to attend the meeting that is fine. We do not recommend going to a meeting on your  without a note taker, as trying to take in what you are being told and making a detailed note is a tall order, particularly if emotions are running high!

An NHS Hospital

Within 6 months of your injury, or within 6 months of you realising that you may have suffered some injury, you can ask the Hospital for the name of the Patient Representative/Complaints Co-ordinator and put your complaint in writing to them (please keep a copy of your letter for your records).  A written response is preferable as we can read and advise you upon that, and you can insist on a written response.  However, if you do attend a meeting try to take someone with you who can make notes of what is said and do ask for written confirmation of what the Hospital is saying after the meeting. The reason we prefer a written response is that this is something we can read later, recorded in black and white, upon which it is then easier to advise. If you have someone who can act as a really good note taker at the meeting on your behalf and you particularly want to attend the meeting that is fine. We do not recommend going to a meeting on your own without a note taker, as trying to take in what you are being told and make a detailed note is a tall order!

Most hospital Trusts now have a department called PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service).  PALS will help you with putting your complaint to the Hospital if you wish.  Their role is to provide information, advice and support to patients and their families.

Private Care

Complain directly to the Hospital/Practitioner concerned.  It is best to do this in writing and keep a copy of your letter for your records.  A member of our team will be happy to advise further once you have the response.  If you are not satisfied with the response the only option in respect of private care is to complain to the General Medical Council (see below) or take legal action.

A nursing home

If you cannot resolve the issues with the Nursing Home itself, and you remain concerned about the quality of care, you should contact the Care Quality Commission (‘CQC’) who will investigate matters. The CQC can be contacted on 03000 616161. Further details can be found on their website: http://www.cqc.org.uk/content/contact-us.

FOR HELP WITH YOUR COMPLAINT:

Independent Complaints Advocacy Service (ICAS)

The Department of Health have set up local ICAS offices to help people with complaints about the NHS.  They can help you with a complaint letter and accompany you to a meeting.

Local ICAS numbers are as follows:-

East Midlands Region                                                0300 456 2370

East of England                                                           0300 456 2370

Essex                                                                            0300 343 5736

London                                                                         0800 783 4849

North East                                                                    0808 802 3000

North West                                                                   0808 801 0389

South East                                                                   0300 343 5705 or 01273 229 002

South West                                                                  0300 343 5710

West Midlands                                                            0300 330 5454

Yorkshire & Humberside                                            0808 802 3000 or 01709 717 130

However, unfortunately ICAS does not provide comprehensive cover for the whole of the UK. There is a demand upon ICAS services and they may sometimes be too busy to help. If so, speak to a member of our team. We may be able to help!

FURTHER STEPS AFTER AN NHS COMPLAINT

You may have heard of the Healthcare Commission, Commission for Social Care Inspection and the Mental Health Act Commission, but these organistions ceased to exist on 31 March 2009.

The Care Quality Commission is the new health and social care regulator for England. The web address is www.cqc.org.uk

Health Service Ombudsman

You can write to the Ombudsman within 12 months of realising you have a complaint.  The Ombudsman can extend this time limit in certain circumstances but this is entirely at the Ombudsman’s discretion.

The contact details are:

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Millbank Tower, Millbank, London SW1 4QP.  You would need to complete a Complaints form and this can be printed off from the internet www.ombudsman.org.uk or you can telephone for a form 0845 015 4033.

The General Medical Council (“GMC”)

The GMC can investigate any complaint they receive about a doctor, whether it comes from a member of the public, from another Doctor or from a Public Authority and every complaint is considered carefully.

The GMC cannot award compensation but they can take action ranging from a warning letter to, in the most serious cases, restricting or removing the Doctor’s right to practice medicine.  In the first instance, you should write to the GMC at Fitness to Practice Directorate, General Medical Council, St James’ Building, 79 Oxford Street, Manchester, M1 6FQ, giving them as much information as you can, together with the full name and address of the Doctor and the full names and addresses of all your friends and relatives who can support your complaint from their own personal knowledge.

Your letter should give the GMC sufficient information to initially screen your complaint and decide whether it is a matter appropriate for them to pursue.

There is no time limit for making a complaint and you do not need to have a Solicitor for making a complaint to the GMC.

If you wish the Doctor involved to know initially that you are making a complaint to the GMC then you should make that clear in your initial letter to the GMC.  Otherwise, they will not let the Doctor know immediately.  On the other hand, you may make a decision that you wish to keep the matter from the Doctor concerned until the GMC have looked at it initially.  This is entirely a matter for you.

If the GMC decide your complaint should be taken further they will then ask you to make a sworn written Statement to support your complaint and at that stage, you may wish to come back to me to assist you in this respect.  I may have to raise a charge to you for this service because I would have to put your Statement and letter to the GMC in a suitable form together with any other information that may be helpful.  You would then need to take your Statement to another Solicitor to be sworn which would cost a minimum of £5.00 plus £2.00 for each exhibit attached to the Statement.

About Medical Solicitors

Our friendly team of specialist lawyers at Medical Solicitors have a lot of experience in bringing successful medical negligence claims.

Compensation can be claimed where there has been delay in getting a patient to hospital, delay in diagnosis, inappropriate advice given concerning  care options and risks and benefits of such options, where there have been excessive delays in providing actual treatment, or where there has been any substandard care that amounts to actual Medical Negligence. 

Do contact our friendly team of specialist lawyers at Medical Solicitors. We conduct most of our Clinical and Medical Negligence claims under ‘No Win, No Fee’ agreements, also known as Conditional Fee Agreements. So, you do not have to worry about how you are going to afford to bring a medical negligence claim for compensation. You have nothing to lose in speaking to us.

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