Making a complaint
If you are not satisfied about a standard of service, action, or lack of action you should complain to the organisation involved to give them a chance to put things right. You can complain on somebody’s behalf but you must have their permission or a right to act on their behalf.
How to complain
How to start a complaint depends on the organisation you wish to complain to. All care and health service providers must have a complaints procedure by law. Don't be afraid to ask them how to complain.
If you are complaining about a private care provider but the service is funded or arranged by Derbyshire County Council Adult Care, then Adult Care has a duty to investigate your complaint.
If your complaint is about both Adult Care and the NHS, you only have to make one complaint. The NHS and Adult Care will work together to produce a joint response.
Healthwatch Derbyshire have information and guidance about making a formal complaint.
Local care and health organisations complaints information
Most organisations offering social care and health services have formal complaints procedures. Here are links to the procedures of some Derbyshire services:
- Derbyshire Adult Care - complaints procedure
- Chesterfield Royal Hospital - complaints procedure
- University Hospitals of Derby and Burton - raising concerns about care
- To complain about NHS services, you can complain either directly to the provider of the service or to the clinical commissioning group.
- NHS Constitution - complaints procedure
- CQC- complaining about the use of the Mental Health Act
If the organisation you wish to complain to isn't listed, see if there is any information about making a complaint on their website or contact them by telephone. Organisations should want to hear your comments and complaints so they can make improvements to services going forward.
Tips for making a complaint
- Complain to the care provider, health service or council as soon as possible after the event. It is much easier to remember all the details and there may be a time limit in which your complaint must be lodged.
- If you are unhappy with the reply you receive, you may have the opportunity to take your complaint to a second stage; again, do so as soon as possible and explain why you are not satisfied with the first response.
- When you have decided to complain, make sure you are complaining to the right organisation and the right department within that organisation. Usually, the head of the department that you are complaining about is a good person to complain to.
Tell them it’s a complaint
- Tell them straight away that you want to make a complaint, and you want it put through the complaints procedure. Ask for details of the complaints procedure and find out who will be handling your complaint.
Put it in writing
It is helpful to put your complaint in writing if you can. If this isn't something you feel comfortable doing, you could ask a friend, carer, family member or an organisation like Citizens Advice to help you.
Be clear and brief
- Cover all the relevant points, but be as brief as you can. Avoid writing long letters or emails, you may feel you need to write in great detail but in most cases this is not necessary.
- Make it easy to read by using numbered lists and headings to highlight the important issues.
- Give your contact telephone and email details, as well as your address. Then, if the person dealing with the complaint needs more information, he or she can contact you and ask.
- Send copies of relevant documents but only those that will help the complaint officer understand your complaint or provide evidence to support it. Make sure you keep copies yourself; you may want to keep any original documents and send copies of these with your complaint.
- Keep notes of any telephone calls about the complaint, including the name of the person you spoke to.
Check it through
- Get family or friends to read your complaint before you send it, if they can’t understand it then the person you are sending it to is likely to struggle too.
- Be clear about what you want and explain clearly what you hope to achieve by complaining. But be realistic, your aims need to be fair and proportionate to the problems you have had.
- Whether writing or speaking to a complaint officer, try to remain polite and calm.
- Be assertive, not aggressive. Your experience of making a complaint is likely to be more productive if you calmly discuss the issues with the complaint officer.
- Respond appropriately if asked to do so by the complaint officer; read any letters and documents that are sent to you. If for some reason you cannot reply within the stated timescale, such as if you are unwell or away on holiday, tell them why and ask for more time.
- It may take some time for your complaint to be considered. Don’t be afraid to chase politely if nothing seems to be happening to progress matters.
What to do if you're not satisfied with the response?
If you are not satisfied that the issues you raised in your complaint have been resolved you may be able to take it further.
If your complaint was about a local government service, such as Adult Social Care, you can send your complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO), there service is free.
If your complaint was about a health service, you can contact the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
If your complaint was about another service, ask them about their escalation procedure.
Carers UK - Being Heard
Carers UK have developed a guide to self advocacy called Being Heard which has lots of tips on how to get your point across and communicate effectively.
Other helpful websites
- Health Watch Derbyshire - Making a Formal Complaint
- Patient Advice and Liaison Service
- CQC - how to make a complaint