As more NHS staff step forward to raise awareness of the strains on our healthcare system, it’s clear that treatment is suffering due to years of underfunding and increased pressure brought on by an ever-growing, and ever-aging, population. As much as we want to show support to the NHS, ignoring that there are problems isn’t going to help the case for increased funding or improve the lives of people who have suffered because of a lack thereof.
If you find yourself unhappy with your care, what should you do? Sometimes just carrying on can’t be done and you shouldn’t have to. Here are the three stages of dealing with an NHS complaint.
Talk to Staff
If you feel comfortable doing so, talking informally to the members of staff on duty on your ward or at your local surgery might be enough to sort your problem. A simple conversation with a member of staff could get you the medication you know you need, get you the help you require to move around or allow you to prevent a problem before it even starts.
Nurses and doctors might be difficult to stop for a word, so reaching out to a healthcare assistant who can take your concern to them is a one way to deal with your problem. It’s worth knowing that while you may have made a request or raised an issue, they might not be able to do anything to help as time and resources may be stretched thin. If that’s the case then you should…
PALS stands for Patient Advice and Liaison Service and there are representatives in every hospital in the country. They offer confidential advice and support on any health-related matter you have, meaning you can bring up any problems you’ve had and they can advise you how to deal with it. They’re not the people you make a complaint to, but they will listen and make any improvements they can.
For many people, PALS is enough to help them feel reassured with their treatment and that their concerns have been heard and taken on board. However, you might feel a serious mistake has been made while you were under the care of your local NHS provider. Should this be the case you might want to…
Make a Complaint
When making an NHS complaint, the best place to go initially is the direct provider of the service, which means the doctor’s surgery, hospital or dentist where the incident happened. This is because your problem might be more easily sorted the closer you are to the source of the problem.
Every organization has a complaints procedure that you follow, with one step covered already (talk to them) but you can also make your complaint in writing or by email. If you decide to do this you’ll be entered into a formal complaints process. If this doesn’t work or you feel your problem wasn’t resolved you can go to the place that commissioned the service. This will be a Trust or CCG (clinical commissioning group), or NHS England, Wales or Scotland.
If you choose this route, the NHS has placed a limit of 12 months from the time of the event, or 12 months from when you became aware of an issue. If you’ve waited beyond this time or feel the process has not helped to give you the answers you seek, you should…
Get in Touch With a Solicitor
If you have experienced illness or injury because of negligent actions of an NHS provider, none of the previous steps have resolved your problem or you feel would not help with the seriousness of the problem you have faced, you should contact a medical negligence solicitor.
If you decide to contact a solicitor to help you with the problems you’ve faced, their aim will be to help you secure NHS compensation for the illness or injury caused to you. This will be to compensate you for any past loss of earnings, help you adjust to your condition and cover any loss of future potential earning, allowing you to continue with your quality of life.
It is rare for someone to feel their case is so serious that they contact a solicitor for support and pursue a clinical negligence case, and it takes a lot for someone to feel this is necessary. Even if the NHS faces challenges, we can’t ask people to suffer for the rest of their lives to keep it going, or ignore that underfunding has caused problems leading to ‘never events’, which are cases of serious negligence that the NHS say should never occur.
However you feel about the NHS, we hope that you feel empowered to make sure your care is the best available and that, when it isn’t, your voice is heard.