Stockton Independent Complaints Advocacy (ICA)
The National Health Service (NHS) works hard to treat everyone properly and promptly and the majority of people who use the health service are happy with their treatment. However, sometimes things can go wrong or you may be unhappy about certain parts of your treatment. By raising your concerns you can help to put things right and ensure that the NHS can learn from your experience.
If you feel you or someone you know have not had the service you expected from the NHS and want to complain, the law says you have the right to have the support of an advocate. Knowing where to turn, when you want to make a complaint can be difficult.
If you live in Stockton-on-Tees and have a complaint about NHS services, Stockton ICA, provided by Pioneering Care Partnership, can guide you through making a complaint by providing you with practical support, advice and information.
You should note that we cannot help you:
Get an NHS Employee disciplined
Give legal advice
Help you with complaints about private medical treatment
Give medical advice
Please contact us for a free copy of our detailed guide which will help to support you through the process.
Who can complain?
The NHS Complaints Regulations state that anyone can complain, either about the treatment they have received personally, but also about the care provided to a friend or family member.
This is detailed as, “A person who is affected, or is likely to be affected, by the action, omission or decision of the responsible body which is the subject of the complaint.”
Most organisations will seek consent from you to investigate the concerns raised, but also to consult the medical records, as these are confidential. This is usually a form sent out through the post for you to sign.
Can I complain on behalf of a friend or relative?
Yes however be aware, an NHS body can request consent from the patient to investigate and release details to the complainant. This is because some of the information may be very personal and so is covered under the Data Protection Act. If you already have this consent, or the patient has died, it might be a good idea to include this in your original letter.
A complaint can also be made about Public Health provision where an individual has been affected either personally, or again, if a friend or family member has.
What if they are unable to give permissions?
If it is not possible to provide this, the organisation may not be able to provide a complete response, but should still be able to investigate issues, and provide a letter which answers things generally, and does not provide any private or specific details about the patient.
Is there a time limit?
The NHS Complaints Regulations state a complaint must be made within 12 months of the incident happening, or within 12 months of you realising you have something to complain about.
A complaint may be accepted outside of this if the body you are complaining to is satisfied that you had good reason for not making the complaint sooner, and they feel it is still possible to investigate the complaint effectively and fairly.
Complaint about the treatment of somebody who has died or seeking the records for a patient who has died
You can complain on behalf of someone else if the person who has grounds to complain:
- has died, or
- is a child, or
- can’t make the complaint themselves because of physical or mental incapacity, or
- has asked you to act on their behalf
If you are seeking the records for a patient who has died, these can only be obtained by certain people. This is known as a Personal Representative and is usually an executor, or someone making a claim arising from the death.
If you do not fall into one of these categories, the NHS body will decide whether they will provide the records on a case by case basis. They will consider if you have a valid reason for requesting the notes, your relationship with the patient, as well as any wishes the patient may have expressed about other people viewing the notes.
Be aware - a patient can at any time instruct an organisation that their records are not to be shared under any circumstances. This is the patient’s choice, and can apply when the records refer to someone who is deceased.
The NHS Trust might decide that the notes cannot be shared as this could cause you distress, or damage the reputation of the person who has died. The organisation should consider the views of any surviving family, and make a decision using all the information available.