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How to make a complaint

You have the right to make a complaint about any aspect of NHS care, treatment or service.

How do I make a complaint?

If you are in hospital, please speak to either the ward manager or matron in the first instance.

You may also, at any time, request to speak with your consultant. This can be arranged by the ward staff.

If you are at home and wish to discuss any concerns, our patient advice and liaison service (PALS) are able to provide you with confidential advice and support.

Alternatively, you may contact our complaints team for advice on the formal process.

Can I make a complaint on behalf of someone else?

A complaint can be made by someone acting on behalf of another person with their consent. A complaint can be made by anyone who is affected, or is likely to be affected, by the actions or decisions of the Trust.

Is there a time limit for making a complaint?

It is best to tell us as soon as possible after the event and within 12 months of the event happening, or within 12 months of discovering you have cause to complain. Complaints received outside of these timescales may be investigated if there is a good reason why the complaint could not be made earlier and only if it is still possible to investigate what happened.

If I make a complaint, I'm worried this will affect how I'm treated if I need to use services in the future?

If you make a complaint you will not be discriminated against in any way. Any information you give will be treated in confidence and with sensitivity. Information about your complaint will always be kept separate from your medical records.

We welcome complaints because it's how we learn where things are not going as well as we hoped they would. Telling us what you're not happy with gives us the opportunity to put things right and share that learning cross the Trust.

Will details of my complaint be recorded in my medical notes?

No. There will be no reference to any complaint in your medical notes.

Is there anyone who can support me when making a complaint?

If you're making, or thinking about making a complaint, you could get help from an NHS complaints advocate.

An advocate can help you write a complaint letter and attend meeting with you but cannot make the complaint for you or give medical or legal advice.

You can get advice from an NHS complaints advocate at any stage of the process. If you decide you need some support, it's never too late to ask for help.

For residents of Norfolk:

Phone: 0300 456 2370

For residents of Cambridgeshire or Lincolnshire

Phone: 0300 303 1660

What happens when I make a complaint?

We will acknowledge your complaint within two working days from the date it is received. We will discuss your complaint with you and agree the following:

  • what has happened
  • how long it will take us to investigate your complaint
  • what you would like to see happen as a result of your complaint
  • the way in which your complaint will be investigated
  • how you like to receive your response - this could be by letter or a meeting

What happens next?

Your complaint will be investigated thoroughly by an investigating officer (IO). If you have provided us with your phone number the IO will attempt to contact you within 48-hours of receiving your complaint to discuss your concerns. As part of their investigation they will speak to the staff involved and review your medical notes. We will ensure that those involved with the investigation will be open and honest and act fairly throughout. Your response will include how we have dealt with your complaint, the conclusions, an apology if things have gone wrong and actions taken.

How long does it take to deal with a complaint?

We will tell you when to expect a response, this is normally 30 working days; however, due to the complexities of your complaint this may need to be longer. However, if an extension is needed the investigating officer (IO) will contact you to explain the reason for the delay. If we are unable to contact you in person, we may write to you to let you know that your complaint has been delayed.

How will my complaint be responded to?

You will receive a written response, or the Trust can arrange a meeting for you to meet with the investigating officer (IO). The meeting will be recorded, and you will receive a copy of the audio recording on a disk along with a written response.

How will I know if things have improved as a result of my complaint?

The written response will include what lessons have been learned and how this has been shared with the staff involved. Where improvements have been made this information will be shared with you.

What if I am not satisfied with the response to my complaint?

If you feel that there are any matters which we have missed, misunderstood or if you would like clarification on any points, you should contact us within two months from the date you received the response. We will review your concerns to see if there is any futher action we can take to resolve your complaint and may suggesta phone call between you and the Investigation Officer (IO).

We will make every effort to resolve your oustanding issues.

What if I remain unhappy with the response to my complaint?

If you are not happy with how we have dealt with your complaint and would like to take the matter futher, you may decide to forward your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. The Ombudsman makes final decisions on unresolved complaints which is free for everyone to use.

If you would like to refer your complaint to the Ombudsman please contact them by visiting the Ombudsman website or you can call them on 0345 015 4033 between 8.30am and 5.30pm, Monday to Friday.

Can I claim for compensation through the complaints process?

The complaint procedure is not specifically designed to award compensation.

If your complaint raises complex clinical issues, or there is also an inquest or there is a potential clinical negligence claim or raises regulatory issues, specialist independent advice is available from Action Against Medical Accidents (AVMA). Their advice is free, and they can be contacted by visiting the AVMA website, by Freephone 0845 123 2352 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 3.30pm) or by writing to:

Action Against Medical Accidents
Freedman House
Christopher Wren Yard
117 High Street

Will details of my complaint be shared with anyone else?

Should the issues you are complaining about be subject to another investigation and the Trust has legal obligations to share for that purpose then complaints information may be shared. For further information about how we use, collect, store, share, retain and destroy your information, please see our privacy notice.