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Writing an NHS Complaints Letter - How It Works
Patients often find they are left without answers to questions they have about the quality of their treatment under the NHS when an error is made that causes physical or mental harm, or when a poor standard of care has been received.
The complaints process can seem lengthy and daunting, leading to many individuals abandoning their complaint, but making a complaint is important and can help if you are to make a claim for compensation in the future. At JMW, we can help you write an effective complaints letter to give you the best chance of achieving the desired outcome and have compiled this quick and simple guide will explain what is involved.
If you’d like to receive additional free advice on how to make a complaint about the NHS, call us on 0800 054 6512 to speak to a solicitor about your situation and find out the best way to progress with your complaint. Alternatively, you can request for us to call you by leaving your details via our online enquiry form.
All complaints to the NHS are made through the NHS Complaints Procedure and should be lodged within six months of the incident occurring, OR six months from the date you became aware that there were reasonable grounds to complain. In some circumstances these time limits can be waived, but there needs to be a good reason.
Before you make a complaint, it’s best to have a think about what you wish to achieve and what you’d like to happen in response to your concerns. You should also be very clear about your complaint, meaning it could be a good idea to make a list of all of the relevant points before writing the letter.
You can complain about any aspect of the treatment or care you or a loved one were given by:
- NHS staff and services in England
- NHS staff or facilities in an NHS hospital’s private wing
- NHS services received in a private hospital
The procedure is made up of a number of separate stages:
- Submission of a personal complaint
- Reply and satisfactory resolution from the local surgery or trust
- Complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
If the complaint is not resolved at the second stage, the procedure will continue to stage 3 until a resolution has been found.
An initial complaint to the NHS won’t gain you any sort of financial compensation; this is only possible if you decide to take legal action via a solicitor who specialises in hospital negligence, such as JMW.
However, using the NHS complaints procedure will give you the opportunity to have your concerns investigated and may provide answers about your treatment, giving you closure on the event. The NHS response to your complaint may also provide vital evidence that can strengthen a compensation claim for medical negligence.
Seeking support from a legal professional
If you have a complaint about poor care or treatment you received under the NHS, a solicitor can assist you in writing a letter of complaint and help you set out your questions. The team at JMW offers this service for free and can help to ensure the complaint investigation is focused and relevant.
Be aware that exploring other avenues, such as the Ombudsman, can prove particularly time-consuming, and certain time limits are in place with regard to when you are able to make a claim. This is why it is best to speak to expert solicitors who can guide you through the process and ensure your complaint achieves its objectives.
If you wish to make a claim for medical negligence in relation to your treatment, this can normally be investigated at the same time as your complaint. However, it is important to inform your solicitor.