Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, staff are currently prioritising patient care due to the demands on our service. As a result, complaints may take longer than usual to resolve.
Do you have a concern?
If there's something you're unhappy with relating to your care and treatment, we'd like to know about it so that we can try to put matters right. Listening to our patients is very important to us and learning from the experience of patients or service users is something we are committed to. We believe that every complaint is an opportunity for us to better understand and improve the quality of our services.
We know that people worry about the impact making a complaint may have on their care (or the care of someone close to them). We pledge that making a complaint will never adversely affect anyone's treatment.
If you have a concern or complaint you can raise it in several ways.
Talking it through
If you are concerned about your care, or any of the services provided, please speak to a member of staff on the ward or in the department. You should always try to let the person delivering the service or their manager know that you are unhappy, so they can try to put things right for you.
If you're staying in hospital or visiting an inpatient
Talk to the ward sister or nurse in charge who will be wearing a distinctive red armband. He/she will listen to your concerns, agree what actions should be taken and update you on progress as required.
If your concern is not resolved to your satisfaction, you can request to speak to the matron (purple uniform) for the department.
If you are an outpatient
Please ask the staff at any reception area to put you in touch with an appropriate member of staff to speak to.
If you would rather talk to someone from outside the ward/department
You can contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS). PALS provides support to patients, their families and visitors. Ask a member of staff to direct you to their office or telephone PALS on 020 7188 8801.
Making a complaint
We have tried to make our complaints process as accessible as possible.
You can also contact our complaints department on 020 7188 3514, email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also send us your complaint using our online form.
Alternatively, you can write to the complaints team using the folowing address:
Great Maze Pond
London SE1 9RT.
Further information on the complaints process is given below.
Writing a complaint
- Ideally, all complaints should be made soon after the events you want to complain about happened. This makes it easier for everyone to remember what happened. Complaints should be made within 12 months of the date of the event.
- Please give as much information as you can, including your name, address and hospital number.
- If you are raising more than one concern, make the points clear that you would like answered. This helps the investigating team to cover all the issues you would like answered.
- You can ask a friend or relative to raise a concern or complaint on your behalf. If you do, we will ask you to sign a consent form, giving us permission to disclose your personal information to this person.
- If you want to make a complaint but are struggling, please contact the complaints team and we will advise you about the support available or offer advice to make sure your concerns are heard.
What can I expect from the complaints process?
We will acknowledge your complaint within three working days and investigate it. We may contact you by phone or email to try to speak with you to make sure we fully understand the concerns you are raising. When we begin our investigation we will let you know how long it is likely to take. We will also keep you informed of progress, and if the investigation is going to take longer than originally thought we will explain to you the reason why.
Once the investigation is complete, we will provide you with a written response explaining the outcome and conclusions of the investigation. Where our investigation has identified any service failure (occasions where our service fell below the standard to be expected) we will explain what actions we intend to take to help avoid that failure (or a similar failure) occurring again and the timescales for completing those actions.
Please be aware that the complaints process cannot look at disciplinary issues, (for example whether a staff member should be sacked), 'strike off' a health professional or suspend their registration, or look at complaints about treatment provided privately unless it was paid for by the NHS.
See also our leaflet:
Learning from complaints
As a Trust we are committed to learning and making changes resulting from complaints. As service users tell us about their experience, if we can identify an improvement or change that can improve this, we will work hard to implement this change. Some examples of learning from complaints that closed from July to September 2021.
Surgery and Acute
Your feedback: patient was referred to local hospital from accident and emergency following an injury
What we learnt: we are introducing a new process to help streamline the experience of patients who are referred to their local hospital
Clinical imaging and medical physics (CLIMP) and Surgery
Your feedback: people did not know there was MRI cancellations on the day of their appointments
What we learnt: a patient information leaflet has been produced to advise patients in advance that occasionally the MRI scan cannot go ahead and to detail reasons for this
Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals (RBH)
Your feedback: technical problems with the virtual clinic
What we learnt: the Outpatients Department have implemented a system whereby all clinics are reviewed and monitored by an administrator assigned to each clinic.This administrator is able to contact any patient with a virtual clinicappointment, talk them through the system and troubleshoot any problems
Gastrointestinal medicine and surgery (GMS)
Your feedback: issue with the emptying of Stoma bags
What we learnt: the management of Stoma appliances has been reviewed and all appliances will be dated at the time of change. The admission assessment will include the patient's usual management to establish preference and then document this
Evelina London: women's and children's healthcare
Your feedback: the management of children with complex airways by staff
What we learnt: a training need for the recovery staff when managing children with complex airways was identified. Subsequently, an ongoing training programme has been developed and commenced in March 2021 to enhance the staff skills and knowledge
Your feedback: denture management
What we learnt: charge nurse working with nursing team to highlight and reinforce denture management. Patients should be encouraged to wear dentures to improve the ability to bite and chew their food. When not worn, it is important to always keep them submerged in water or denture solution to prevent the acrylic from drying out over time. This can contribute to dentures losing their shape, or causing them to become brittle and not fit as well
Gastrointestinal medicine and surgery (GMS)
Your feedback: supporting patients affected by delays
What we learnt: the mental health pathways in place at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital are generally for those in crisis who come in as an emergency and for those who are receiving inpatient physical healthcare and have underlying mental health needs that require treatment also. The Clinical Psychologist delivered a session to the Gastrointestinal medicine and surgery administrative team on 22 July 2021 to help improve support for patients
Your feedback: administering care in community
What we learnt: district Nurse no access protocol to be updated to include flowchart for escalation and all service-level no access protocols in the directorate have been pulled together into a single directorate-wide protocol which has been implemented
What if I am still not happy?
If, after you have received our written response to your complaint, you are not satisfied you can request an independent review of your complaint.
You will need to write to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), requesting a review. You should usually take your complaint to the Ombudsman within a year of when you first became aware of the problem.
Contacting our complaints department
You can also send us your complaint using our online form.
Great Maze Pond
London SE1 9RT.
Further help and useful resources
Video tips on making a complaint
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has produced a British Sign Language video featuring tips on making a complaint to the NHS.
Support for patients with learning disabilities
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman have also produced an easy read leaflet and video on complaining.
The PHSO accessibility webpage contains useful information for people who have a learning disability or want Easy Read information.