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Health services

As a carer, you may be involved in arranging a package of care for the person you're looking after. Part of this package may be medical care.

You may need to know what support you can expect and the procedure that should be followed if the person you're looking after comes out of hospital. You may need to know where to find and how to access a range of medical and medical-related services, such as counselling for yourself or palliative care for the person you're caring for.

You may be involved in managing the medication of the person you're looking after, or helping them contact one or more healthcare professionals. 

For more information about using NHS services, see the links on the right. There's also information about health checks for you and access to flu jabs for carers in the sections above.

NHS complaints 

The NHS has a complaints system that you can use if you're unhappy about the treatment or service you've received. Complaints can be made by a patient or by someone acting on their behalf and with their consent.

The complaint could be about services in the community, treatment by doctors, dentists or opticians or hospital-based services. You and the person you look after may be concerned about:

  • delays
  • cancelled appointments
  • poor treatment
  • lack of dignity in care
  • poor hygiene
  • transport problems
  • missing or incorrect medical records, or
  • loss of personal property

How to complain: local resolution

You can complain directly to the organisation or medical practitioner providing the service. Each NHS trust or hospital has its own complaints procedure, which will explain what you need to do.

Complaints should be resolved as quickly as possible by local NHS staff or managers. This is called local resolution. 

You should normally make the complaint within 12 months of the incident. This time limit can be extended if there's a good reason why you didn't complain earlier.

Once a meeting or investigation has taken place, you should receive a written explanation of how the complaint has been resolved and what action has been taken.

Independent review

If your complaint isn't resolved by local resolution, you can complain directly to the Health Service Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is an impartial and independent body that may agree to investigate your complaint and make recommendations.

Very serious complaints

If your complaint is about a very serious matter, such as a medical error, abuse or neglect, you're likely to need specialist legal advice as soon as possible.

Complaints about both health and social services

Sometimes complaints involve the NHS and social services. These two bodies should work jointly to consider your complaint.

Help with making a complaint

The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) is located in every Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). The PALS staff can tell you more about the complaints system and may be able to help you resolve a complaint locally.

Healthwatch England and National Voices are organisations that help people give feedback about both health and social care services.

The Independent Health Complaints Advocacy service provides advice and support for people who want to complain about the NHS.

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Page last reviewed: 20/05/2013

Next review due: 20/05/2015

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