The NHS Complaints Procedure
The NHS Complaints Procedure is designed to provide complainants with a prompt but thorough response.
Step One: Letting Us Know Of Your Concerns.
As well as being told when we do things well, we also need to know when things don’t go so well. When this happens you can support us by letting us know what the problem is as soon as possible.
We hope that the relationship built up between you and our staff will enable you to raise any issues or concerns you may have with them directly. It is quite possible that they will be able to sort out the problem straight away.
Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS).
If you would prefer to speak to someone not directly involved with your hospital care and treatment, you can contact a PALS officer on 01271 314090 (9.00am to 4.30pm) or by email: ndht.PALS@nhs.net
The PALS officer can provide support and advice and can often address concerns raised very quickly on your behalf, by contacting the right people or departments. It is quite possible that they will be able to sort out the problem promptly.
More Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) information can be found by clicking here.
Alternatively you can contact PALS by an online form
Step Two: How To Make A Formal Complaint.
Sometimes talking with staff may not help to resolve matters, you may be unhappy with their response or you may not wish to speak with the staff directly.
We have procedures so that your concerns can be thoroughly looked into and you can be given a considered response. A formal complaint can be made to the Trust in a number of ways:
You can write directly to the Patient Experience Manager at the following address:
Patient Experience Manager
North Devon District Hospital
Devon EX31 4JB
You can contact the Patient Experience Department via telephone, who will register your concerns and initiate the complaints process:
Patient Experience Support Officers (01271) 335760 or 314185
You can e-mail your concerns to the complaints mailbox – email@example.com
More information can be found here.
Step Three: What Will Happen To Your Complaint?
The Trust aim to acknowledge your complaint/concern in writing, or by telephone, within three working days of its receipt.
We will ensure that the complaint is fully investigated and every effort will be made to resolve matters as promptly as possible.
We will aim to provide you with a full written response from the Chief Executive within an agreed timescale of receiving the complaint dependent upon the complexity of the concerns raised.
When it is not possible to meet the suggested working day timescale, we will ensure that you are kept informed as to the status of your complaint. In some instances, for example where your complaint may be complex or relate to a number of services or departments it may be necessary to request an extension to the timescale in order to genuinely support the further investigation of your concerns.
If it transpires that through our investigation the Trust failed in some way, we will look at our practices to try to stop it happening again and learn from the complaint and improve services. It is our policy to investigate complaints in an open honest and transparent manner; we will also offer a full apology where appropriate.
Benefits of Complaints/Concerns:
We welcome patients and relatives coming forward to raise their concerns. Your complaint may highlight shortcomings, which can be put right, therefore improving services for other patients.
Raising a concern will not affect how you are treated and complaint letters and records are not filed in your healthcare records.
Other Healthcare Services:
If you wish to raise a complaint/concern about:
- Your GP, community dentist, pharmacist or optician:
in the first instance please contact the practice directly for further guidance or contact NHS England:
NHS England South (South West)
Tamar View Industrial Estate
Cornwall PL12 6LE
- Patient Transport or Hospital Car services, please contact
SPOC (Single Point of Contact) on 01271 314332
- Ambulance Services: please contact South West Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Abbey Court, Eagle Way, Exeter EX2 7HY
Independent Advice and Help:
The Advocacy People
The Advocacy People can:
- support and guide you in preparing your complaint
- help you write any letters you wish to send.
- provide further advice and support during the complaint process
(However they cannot give a medical opinion or advice).
Tel: 0330 440 9000
NHS in England: How do I comment about my NHS Treatment?
Department of Health Website: How to Complain about the NHS.
Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust: Complaints Leaflet.
Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust: PAL’s.
Step Four: What To Do If You Are Still Dissatisfied?
We hope to be able to respond to the issues raised in your complaint in an appropriate way. The Trust is keen to learn from the way in which it manages complaints and concerns to try and develop and improve services.
If you remain unhappy following the Trust’s investigation and response, or feel that we have not answered the points that you have raised, we would ask you to contact the Customer Relations Department in the first instance so that all appropriate attempts can be made to resolve your further issues.
If you remain dissatisfied with the further response, you have the right to take your complaint to the Health Service Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is independent of government and the NHS. Her service is confidential and free. There are time limits for taking a complaint to the Ombudsman, although she can waive them if she thinks there is a good reason to do so.
If you have any questions about whether the Ombudsman will be able to help you, or about how to make a complaint, you can contact their helpline on 0345 015 4033, email firstname.lastname@example.org or fax 0300 061 4000. Further information about the Ombudsman is available at
You can write to the Ombudsman at:
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman