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Questions and Answers
Who can complain?
Any NHS patient can complain about any NHS service they have received and are unhappy about. You can complain on behalf of someone else in certain circumstances (see more below). NHS services include treatment and care given by your GP, dental surgery, hospital and the ambulance service. Anyone who is affected, or likely to be affected by the action, omission or decision of an NHS body can make a complaint.
My mother is elderly and I don’t feel she could manage the complaints process. Can I complain for her?
You may complain for a friend or relative as long as they agree. It is useful to get their permission in writing. Click here to find out more about our Confidentiality Policy.
My partner has Alzheimer’s Disease. Do I still need her permission to make a complaint?
If your friend or relative is very ill, or does not have the capacity to give permission because of an impairment or a disability, you may complain on their behalf without their permission. However, the Trust will confirm the patient’s lack of capacity before accepting the complaint. If they do not accept the complaint they must inform you in writing and tell you why.
My father died and I didn’t have his consent to act for him. Can I complain about his treatment?
Yes. You may raise a complaint or take over a complaint on behalf of a friend or relative who has died, even if you do not have their written permission. In some cases the NHS can decide not to accept you as a suitable representative; they will discuss this with you.
My nephew is 15 and has Down’s Syndrome. Can I complain on his behalf without his written permission?
A complaint can be made on behalf of a child (under age 18) if the child is unable to make the complaint themselves. NHS organisations must not consider a complaint made on behalf of a child unless they are sure that the child is unable to complain themselves. They must inform you in writing if they make this decision and tell you why.
Can I complain about something that happened in the past?
It depends how long ago it happened. You should make your complaint within 12 months of the incident happening or within 12 months of you realising you had something to complain about. NHS organisations are allowed to waive this time limit if there are good reasons why you could not complain earlier, for example if you were too ill to complain at the time.
I had an operation in a private hospital. Can I complain to the NHS?
It depends. If the NHS paid for your operation in a private hospital, you can complain to the NHS. If you paid for your treatment yourself, or through private medical insurance, you cannot complain to the NHS. The private hospital will have its own complaints procedure that you should follow.
I want to sue the surgeon who operated on me. How do I go about it?
You will need to take legal action if you want to make a claim for compensation. The NHS Complaints Procedure does not deal with these cases. You can find details of local specialist solicitors by contacting Legal Aid or the Law Society.