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NHS Complaints Procedure - explained

Who can complain or make a comment?
A complaint can be made by a patient or person affected, or likely to be affected, by the actions or decisions of an NHS organisation (hospital, mental health or community trust) or primary care practitioner (GP, dentist, pharmacy or optician). It can also be made by someone acting on behalf of such a patient or person and with their consent, for example, a parent or carer.

What is the difference between a complaint and comment?
A comment or concern is an issue that is raised by an individual who does not want it to be called "a complaint". These are usually resolved informally, which may involve contacting other agencies for a speedy resolution and signposting individuals as and when necessary.
A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction about any aspect of a service commissioned by Harrow Clinical Commissioning Group which requires a written response and may involve an investigation. It can be expressed in writing or verbally (face-to-face or telephone). The individual making the complaint should use the formal complaints process and will be asked for consent before the complaint is disclosed for investigation.

What is the time limit for making a complaint or comment?
A complaint should be made within 12 months of the event(s) concerned or within 12 months of you becoming aware that there is an issue to complain about. There is discretion to waive this time limit if there are good reasons why the complaint was not made earlier.
A comment can be made at any time as there is no specified timescale for submitting a comment. However, it is strongly advised to make a comment within 12 months of the event(s) concerned or within 12 months of you becoming aware that there is an issue.

Where to send your complaint or comment
Patients who have a comment or complaint about a GP, dentist, pharmacy or optician that cannot be resolved locally with the practice manager, should contact NHS England.
NHS England, PO Box 16738, Redditch B97 9PT
Telephone 0300 311 2233
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Patients who have a comment or complaint about a hospital, mental health trust or community trust, should contact the provider directly. Each provider has a PALS (patient advice and liaison service) or complaints department.

Patients who have a comment or complaint about a health service that is not available to meet their needs should contact Brent, Hillingdon and Harrow Clinical Commissioning Groups (BHH).
Telephone 020 8966 1065 or 020 8966 1059
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Parents, carers or young people who have a comment or complaint about a health element of the Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan should in the first instance contact a member of the SEN Assessment and Review Service (SENARS).
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Telephone 0208 966 6438

Patients who require support or advice to make a complaint or comment, should contact NHS Complaints Advocacy Service. This service is for Harrow residents and is delivered by three organisations working in partnership: Harrow Association of Disabled People, Harrow Mencap, and Age UK Harrow.

Ground Floor, Bentley House, 15-21 Headstone Drive, Wealdstone, Harrow HA3 5QX
Telephone 020 8861 9920
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Visit the website www.had.org.uk

What if a patient made a complaint and is dissatisfied with the response?
Patients who are dissatisfied with the way in which the NHS has dealt with their complaint should contact the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), provided the NHS has had the opportunity to resolve it locally. PHSO may undertake an independent review of the case within 12 months from the date on which the subject matter of the complaint occurred.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Millbank Tower, Millbank, London SW1P 4QP
Telephone 0345 015 4033
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Visit the website www.ombudsman.org

The NHS complaints procedure has five stages:

  1. Complaint/comment – receipt of complaint will be acknowledged within 3 working days.
  2. Investigation – on receipt of signed consent forms, the case will be forwarded for investigation.
  3. Mediation – A meeting may be organised between the patient and service provider representative to try and resolve matters to the patient’s satisfaction.
  4. Response – Following on from the mediation and depending on the complexity of the case, a response will be sent to the patient within 20 working days. The response will detail what actions have been taken to resolve the complaint.
  5. Ombudsman - Patients who are dissatisfied with the response after stage 4 can ask the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) for an independent review of their case within 12 months from the date on which the subject matter of the complaint occurred.

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