Most issues can be sorted out quickly and easily, often at the time they happen and with the person involved. This may be what you try first.
If you cannot resolve the issue this way, you can make a formal complaint.
Get advice before you start
Before you make your complaint, you can get free, confidential advice from your local Healthwatch team.
Who can make a complaint
If you're a registered patient you can make a complaint about your own care.
You can complain on behalf of someone else if you have their written consent.
When to make a complaint
It’s best to make a formal complaint within a few days of the incident. This makes it easier to confirm what happened.
If that’s not possible, you should make the complaint within 12 months of the incident, or of you discovering the problem.
How to make a complaint
You can either:
If you write your own letter [or email], you need to include:
- your full name
- your date of birth
- the GP practice you’re registered with
- details of the incident, including dates, times and names of people involved, if you know them
- your consent for [insert name of local authority] to release your information - this allows us to contact any other organisations involved in the incident
Post the form or letter to:
Durham, DH1 2UW
What happens next
We’ll let you know we’ve received your complaint within [3 working days].
Within 30 working days we may:
- reply to you in writing
- invite you to meet with the people involved, if you want
If it's likely to take longer than 30 working days we’ll let you know, and we'll update you as things change.
What we look at
We look at:
- what happened and why
- how we can help you talk to the people involved, if you want
- what we can learn
If more than one organisation is involved
Other organisations might be involved, for example social services. If so, we’ll talk to them and you’ll receive one coordinated reply. We may need your consent to do this.
If your complaint gets sent to the wrong organisation to begin with, we may ask for your consent to forward it to the right place.
We'll write to tell you the outcome of your complaint.
We'll also explain how to escalate the issue if you’re not happy with the outcome.
If you’re unhappy with the outcome
If you’re unhappy with the outcome, you can contact the Health Service Ombudsman. They may be able to look further into your complaint.
Get advice if you’re unhappy with the outcome
Contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) to get free, confidential advice. You can find your nearest PALS office on the NHS website.
Complain on behalf of someone else
To complain for someone else, you need their written consent. They need to confirm that they:
- are unhappy with their treatment
- allow the practice to deal with someone else about the issue
We cannot discuss the issue with you until the patient gives their written consent.
We may also still need to talk directly with the patient.
How to complain on behalf of someone else
Ask at the practice reception for the complaints form. The patient needs to sign this to give their consent.
If the patient cannot give consent
If the patient cannot give consent because of illness or an accident, it might still be possible to deal with the complaint for them. Please write a letter which gives precise details of why they cannot give consent.
This process is in place because we keep to strict rules of medical and personal confidentiality.