Shropshire Council

What to do if you are unhappy with a health service

If you are unhappy with a health service, you have the right to make a complaint about any aspect of health care, treatment or service, and this is firmly written into the NHS Constitution.

It is often worthwhile contacting the service directly to discuss your concerns as they may be able to resolve the issue quickly.  Most problems can be dealt with at this stage, but in some cases you may feel more comfortable speaking to someone not directly involved in your care.

Who can help you to raise your complaint

Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) offer support and guidance to help you to resolve an issue informally, or provide you with advice on how to make a formal complaint.

Healthwatch Shropshire provide an Independent NHS Complaints Advocacy Service across the county.

NHS Choices has lots of information about how to make a complaint about the National Health Service in England.

Complaining about a mental health service

If you wish to make a complaint about a mental health service, you should either contact the service provider or the local CCG.

But if you wish to complain about the use of the Mental Health Act on someone detained in hospital or put on a guardianship or under a community treatment order, complain to the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

You can find detailed guidance on the CQC website.

Complaining about NHS services

Everyone who provides an NHS service in England must have their own complaints procedure.

You can often find information in waiting rooms, at reception, on the service provider's website, or by asking a member of staff.

You can either complain to the NHS service provider directly (such as a GP, dentist surgery or hospital) or to the commissioner of the services, which is the body that pays for the NHS services you use. You cannot apply to both.

In the event of a complaint about more than one organisation – perhaps a complaint that includes issues about your GP, local hospital and ambulance service – you'll only need to make one complaint.

The organisation that receives your complaint must then co-operate with the others to ensure you receive a co-ordinated response.

Making a complaint

Complaints should normally be made within 12 months of an incident or of the matter coming to your attention.

This time limit can be extended provided you have good reasons for not making the complaint sooner and it's possible to complete a fair investigation.

This will be a decision taken by the complaints manager in discussion with you.

You can make a complaint verbally, in writing or by email. If you make your complaint verbally, a record of your complaint will be made and you'll be provided with a written copy.

If you're complaining on behalf of someone else, include their written consent with your letter (if you're making your complaint in writing) as this will speed up the process.

But consent is not required if you're making a complaint in the name of:

If you'd like support, you can always contact your local NHS Complaints Advocacy service.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman website also has tips about making a complaint, including tailored advice for people with learning disabilities and resources for south Asian and Muslim women.

Where to send your complaint

There are many different providers of healthcare in Shropshire. When you want to make a complaint, you normally complain directly to the provider of the service. Alternatively you can complain to the organisation who commission the service. List of services:

Hospitals

Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital

Service Provider: Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust

Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital

Service provider: Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Bishop's Castle Community Hospital, Bridgnorth Community Hospital, Ludlow Community Hospital, Whitchurch Community Hospital

Service Provider: Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust

Commissioner: Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)

If you are unhappy with the response to your complaint, you can take the complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

The Care Quality Commission have produced standards for hospitals.

Community health services

Provider: Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust

Commissioner: Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)

If you are unhappy with the response to your complaint, you can take the complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Mental Health Services

Service provider: Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust

Commissioner: Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)

If you are unhappy with the response to your complaint, you can take the complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

GP Services

To make a formal complaint contact the Practice Manager of the practice.

Commissioner: NHS England

If you are unhappy with the response to your complaint, you can take the complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

The Care Quality Commission have produced a booklet to help the public understand what they can expect from their GP.

Ambulance Services

Emergency Ambulance Service

Service provider: West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.

Commissioner: Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)

Patient Transport Ambulance Service

Service Provider: Falck Ambulance Services
Commissioner: Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)

If you are unhappy with the response to your complaint, you can take the complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Out of Hours services

Urgent Primary Care

Service Provider: ShropDoc
Commissioner: Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)

NHS 111 Service

Service provider: Care UK Healthcare
Commissioner: NHS England

If you are unhappy with the response to your complaint, you can take the complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Pharmacy

To make a formal complaint contact the Service Manager of the pharmacy.

Commissioner: NHS England

If you are unhappy with the response to your complaint, you can take the complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Opticians

To make a formal complaint contact the Service Manager of the optician service.

Commissioner: NHS England

If you are unhappy with the response to your complaint, you can take the complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

For complaints about private optical services contact the Optical Consumer Complaints Service.

Dentists

To make a formal complaint contact the Practice Manager of the practice.

Commissioner: NHS England

If you are unhappy with the response to your complaint, you can take the complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

For complaints about private dental services contact the Dental Complaints Service.

Sexual Health Services

Service provider: Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust

Commissioner: Shropshire Council

If you are unhappy with the response to your complaint, you can take the complaint to either the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) or the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO).  Both Ombudsmen have jurisdiction in cases where an NHS service provider has been commissioned by a Local Authority and they may decide to conduct a joint investigation.  It would probably be best to approach whichever Ombudsman is connected with the organisation to whom you directed your original complaint - so PHSO if you originally complained to the NHS Trust or the LGO if you originally complained to the Council

Private Healthcare

Healthwatch Shropshire's remit only covers publicly funded health and social care services, so we cannot assist with concerns or complaints about privately funded services.

For complaints about private healthcare contact the Independent Sector Complaints Adjudication Service.

What to expect

You should expect an acknowledgement and the offer of a discussion about the handling of your complaint within 3 working days of receiving your complaint. If you accept, the discussion will cover the period within which a response to your complaint is likely to be sent. There's no set timeframe, and this will depend on the nature of your complaint. If, in the end, the response is delayed for any reason, you should be kept informed.

If you made a complaint but do not receive a response or decision for more than 6 months, you should be told the reason for the delay. Once your complaint has been investigated, you'll receive a written response. The response should set out the findings and, where appropriate, provide apologies and information about what's being done as a result of your complaint. It should also include information about how the complaint has been handled and details of your right to take your complaint to the relevant ombudsman.

Not happy with the outcome

If your problem persists or you're not happy with the way your complaint has been dealt with locally, you can complain to the relevant ombudsman.  You have the right to forward your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman to look at who will make a final decision on unresolved complaints about the NHS in England. This organisation is independent of the NHS.

For more information, call 0345 015 4033 or visit the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman website.