Frequently Asked Questions

Helpline Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I make a complaint about my care/my relative's care in hospital?

You can write to the Chief Executive of the hospital, or ring or email the Complaints Department of the Hospital.  Sometimes you can complete a feedback form on the trust website.  The Patients Association has a publication on our website on how to make a complaint.

How to make a complaint

Alternatively, you look on NHS Choices at the information on making a complaint:

How do I find an NHS Dentist?

You can ring the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and ask them for this information.  (Look on line by typing CCG and your town into your web browser for the contact number)

Or you can look an NHS Choices which has a webpage where you can put in your postcode to find your nearest dentist taking NHS patients, and the reviews by patients plus the distance from your home.

How do I see my GP records?

Write to your GP asking to see your records.  You may want to find out first if they make a charge for this, (ask your Practice Manager this question).  The request is known as a Subject Access Request and you need to state the dates of the records you wish to see (i.e. from x to y).  Requests should be met within 40 days.  The NHS Choices have a page on requesting medical records:

You can also look at the Information Commissioners Website:

How do I contact PALS?

PALS is the Patient Liaison Service in organisations.  You can look on line on the organisation’s website, either under ‘contact us’ or ‘complaints’ or you can ring the Trust switchboard and ask to speak to PALS.

I have a long wait for my operation, what can I do, as my pain is increasing while I wait?

Firstly have you been back to your GP to tell him or her that you are worsening?  Secondly, have you contacted the hospital to see if you are able to take a cancellation at short notice?  Finally are you aware of the NHS Constitution waiting times?  There is an 18 week pledge from the time the hospital receive your referral.  Please see all the details of this on the NHS Choices website:

Where your local hospital cannot meet these waiting times , you can be referred to another hospital for the procedure.  If you do not have any success with this, you can contact your local Clinical Commissioning Group and ask for them to help you get your treatment.  (Put CCG and your town into your browser for the contact details or phone our helpline and we will do this for you).

Can I report my care to the Care Quality Commission (CQC)?

Yes you can.  The CQC do not investigate individual complaints, but they collect information about trusts or organisations which they use for inspections.  When you report poor care to us, we will automatically report this to the CQC anonymously, if you have not given us permission to use your name.  You need to have the name of the organisation and details of the poor care to report.  The website has an on line form to fill in:

My mother died recently in hospital and I don’t think that they looked after her properly, what should I do?

This tragically is a common question, and one which is difficult to deal with my email.  We will try to contact you by phone to discuss this further and to help you decide how to deal with this.  We may suggest that you wait a while until you feel less shocked and can think clearer.  We will suggest that you talk to your relatives about the care and come up with a clear list of what you think went wrong, and then will advise you to talk to the Patient Advice and Liaison Service in the trust, or to make a formal written complaint.

I have mental health issues, but I don’t feel my doctor is dealing with me properly, what can I do?

We suggest that you talk to your doctor about your problems, or contact PALS and ask for their help.  You may want to consider having an advocate (someone to go with you and speak on your behalf).  We will look for an advocate for you, depending on where you live as there are several organisations who provide advocates.  You can look up NHS advocate, mental health, and put in your town, in your browser, or we will do our best to find you a local service.

I have received a letter about my complaint and it doesn’t answer the questions I asked, what do I do?

Firstly we suggest that you go back to the trust and tell them that you are unsatisfied with their response, and that you would like to have a meeting about this with the people concerned.  If you have already done this, you can send your complaint to the Parliamentary Health Services Ombudsman.  They will look at your complaint and decide whether or not to investigate it, or if they feel that the organisation to whom you complained have done their best to make things right.  You can get more details from the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) on their website:

The Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman say they have investigated my complaint and do not uphold it, what can I do now?

You can appeal about their decision to the Customer Care Team:

For this it is helpful to state what exactly you feel is wrong, and site any information you feel has been overlooked.  Much of our work is spent dealing with cases like this, and going through the issues to raise with the Customer Care Team.  If this appeal fails, the Patients Association are happy to have details of your case and to use this in our campaign to have an independent and fair appeals service for NHS Complaints.


Not quite answered your question?  Visit our helpline page to get in touch with one of our team.