NHS - Mistreated

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The NHS usually provide a very good standard of care and most patients have no problems with the way they are treated. However when mistakes happen while receiving health care the NHS state that you are entitled to receive an appropriate explanation and apology, delivered with sensitivity and recognition of the trauma you have experienced. You can use the NHS complaints procedure before starting legal action which should help you find out what happened in your case. When you have your case details you can then decide whether to make a claim of clinical negligence against the hospital. However if you’ve been injured as a result of negligent medical treatment, you may be able to take legal action for compensation. You should get specialist legal advice if you think you have a claim.

You should know

  • The NHS has a constitution which sets out your rights as a patient.
  • Most issues can be resolved satisfactorily by complaining to the staff on the ward directly.
  • There are time limits within which to make a complaint. The time limit for using the official complaints procedure is 12 months.
  • It doesn’t cost you anything to complain using the NHS complaints procedure.
  • You should seek specialist legal advice in cases where you may have suffered injury or neglect.
  • If you are unhappy with the NHS response to your complaint you can escalate your issue to the Parliamentary and Health Service.

The NHS has a constitution which sets out your rights as a patient.

There are time limits within which to make a complaint. The time limit for using the official complaints procedure is 12 months.

The time limits for legal action depend on the sort of legal action you are taking. Check what are the time limits are for each course of action that you’re thinking about.

It doesn’t cost you anything to complain using the NHS complaints procedure.

If you want to take legal action, you will need the advice of a specialist solicitor, and legal aid isn’t available for most cases of clinical negligence or personal injury.

What to do first

Every NHS organisation has a complaints procedure. If you want to complain about an NHS service – such as a hospital, GP or dentist – ask the service for a copy of their complaints procedure, which will explain what you need to do.
You may choose to make a complaint in writing, by email through resolver or by speaking to them using the resolver iPhone or Android Apps .

If you speak to them, they may be able to resolve your concerns without you having to go through the formal complaints process.
This is called a local resolution. It aims to resolve complaints quickly, and most cases are resolved at this stage. However, if you don't feel comfortable raising your concerns directly (or your problem wasn't resolved) and you would still like to make a formal complaint, follow the NHS complaints process.

You may make a complaint to either the organisation that provided your healthcare or the organisation that commissioned that NHS service. The commissioning body will be either the local clinical commissioning group (CCG) for hospital care, or NHS England for GP, dental, pharmacy and optical services.

Time limit for NHS complaints

You should make your complaint as soon as possible. The time limit for a complaint is normally:

  • 12 months from the date the event happened, or
  • 12 months from the date you first became aware of it

Patient Advice and Liaison Services (PALS)

You can get help and advice from Patient Advice and Liaison Services (PALS), whose officers are available in most hospitals. They offer confidential advice, support and information on health-related matters to patients, their families and their carers.

NHS Complaints Independent Advocacy Service

Individual local authorities have a legal duty to organise independent advocacy services to provide support for people who are making, or thinking of making, a complaint about their NHS care or treatment.

Contact your local PALS, complaints manager or local authority for information about how this service is provided in your area.

Parliamentary & Health Ombudsman

If you are unhappy with the outcome of your complaint you can refer the matter to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, who is independent of the NHS and government. There is no timescale set for escalating a case to the Ombudsman, however, resolver has assumed a timescale of 8 weeks. If your issue cannot be resolved before then and you receive a final response then contact resolver and we can help you escalate your case before the 8 weeks.

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