Your rights to complain

The NHS provides excellent care to thousands of people day in, day out. We all have an understanding of the pressures it faces, but this should not stop people from speaking up when things go wrong.

Friday, 22nd September 2017, 13:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st September 2017, 10:39 am

Data published by NHS Digital revealed that there were 208,400 complaints about the NHS in 2016-17. However, all too often, patients and their families are not fully aware of their rights.

The NHS Constitution states that everyone has the right to complain, to have their complaint about NHS services acknowledged within three working days, and to have the matter properly investigated.

It is important that patients are also aware that if they are dissatisfied with the way in which their complaint is handled, they have the right to bring their complaint to us, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), for an independent and impartial view.

Where the PHSO upholds complaints, we recommend that the NHS puts things right by offering an appropriate remedy. This might be an apology, a financial remedy, the creation of action plans to ensure mistakes are not repeated, additional staff training, or changes to policies and procedures.

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We see a wide variation in the quality of NHS complaint handling so it is imperative that people know their rights and are not afraid to complain when mistakes are made.

Rob Behrens

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman