Your experience of NHS services
NHS Darlington Clinical Commissioning Group welcomes feedback, positive or negative, about your experience of local NHS services as this helps us to improve services for patients.We need to know if you, your relative or someone you care for, has not received a good service. Please be assured that raising a concern or complaint will not affect your care or treatment in any way. If you are unhappy with the treatment or service you have received from NHS services, you have the right to make a complaint, have it looked into and receive a response. You can also raise your concerns immediately by speaking with the staff involved. If you’re pleased with one of the services commissioned by the clinical commissioning group then please let us know by writing to us at the address below.
Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)
If you prefer, you can contact PALS who may be able to help you resolve your concerns informally without having to make a formal complaint.
Find further information on PALS.
PALS are not able to:
- Help with social care complaints but they can advise you on who to contact
- Help with a formal complaint requiring an investigation
Making a complaint
Anyone can complain about NHS services or treatment they have received, or if they have been affected by the actions or decisions of an NHS organisation, or primary care practitioner. If you are unable to complain yourself, someone can act on your behalf with your written consent.
How do I make a complaint?
The NHS complaints procedure aims to resolve complaints quickly, at source. This is called ‘local resolution’ and means you should complain to the organisation that provided the service you’re unhappy with first.
You can make your complaint in writing, by email or verbally. If you make your complaint verbally, you will be asked to sign and return a written record to ensure that you agree with the contents. Should you prefer to meet with our Complaints Team to discuss your complaint, this can be arranged, though please note that such meetings are by appointment only.
When should I make a complaint?
A complaint should be made within 12 months from the date it occurred or when it came to your attention. In some cases if there is good reason why you could not complain sooner and it is still possible to investigate your complaint, it may be possible to waive the time limit.
What happens if my complaint involves a number of different organisations?
If your complaint involves more than one NHS organisation, or the NHS and social care you only need to make one complaint and you will receive a single, coordinated response. If any part of the joint complaint relates to a primary care service, (that is a GP, dentist, pharmacist, or optician), the complaint will need to be raised with NHS England – their details are provided under the section related to them.
Where do I send my complaint?
If your complaint is about a hospital, community or mental health service you should send this to the NHS organisation involved.
If your complaint is about a GP practice, dental practice, community pharmacy or optician you should send this to the practice concerned.
Darlington CCG has contracted with North of England Commissioning Support Service (NECS) for them to manage the complaints function on their behalf. They will therefore need to pass a copy of your concerns to NECS to investigate on their behalf. If you are not happy for these details to be shared with NECS you must make it clear at the time of raising your complaint that you do not give consent for the details to be shared.
What if I don’t want to raise my complaint with the service involved?
Some complainants prefer to send their complaint to the commissioner of NHS services. This is fine, however, the commissioner will consider which organisation is best placed to address your concerns. The health care provider (for example the hospital or district nursing team) will normally be given the opportunity to respond to your complaint.
Investigation and improving services
When you submit a complaint, it is helpful if you could be clear what you would like to achieve as a result of making your complaint, so that the NHS can try to resolve the matter to your satisfaction.
Your complaint will be fully investigated in a manner that is fair to both complainants and staff. If failings are identified during the investigation, any necessary changes will be made to improve the quality of services. You will also be advised in the written response to your complaint of any service improvements.
What happens if I am unhappy with the response?
We aim to ensure that all complaints are handled well and that appropriate action is taken to resolve a concern. We will do everything that we feel is appropriate in order to try and resolve matters to your satisfaction.
If, however, you remain unhappy after your complaint has been addressed, you can ask the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) to review your complaint. You should do this within twelve months from the date on which the subject matter of the complaint occurred.
The PHSO can be contacted:
Helpline: 0345 015 4033
In writing: Ombudsman at Millbank Tower, Millbank, London, SW1P 4QP
Further information about the Ombudsman is also available on their website www.ombudsman.org.uk
NHS Darlington CCG
We are the commissioner of local hospital, community and mental health services and you can send your complaint to us about these services. However, our Clinical Quality Team will, with your consent, need to forward your complaint to the relevant provider organisation, who will then investigate and respond to your complaint. As commissioners we will take your complaint seriously and will ask the provider to give us a copy of the response to your complaint on conclusion of the investigation.
Who can help me to make a complaint?
The North East Independent Complaints Advocacy (ICA) team can guide and support you though the complaints process. They can help you put your complaint in writing and attend meetings with you. However, the ICA team does not investigate complaints.
Support to residents of all other areas of the North East is available from the North East ICA who can be contacted on 0808 802 3000.
Support to Darlington residents is available from Healthwatch Darlington who will signpost to NHS Complaints Advocacy. Healthwatch Darlington can be contacted on 0808 801 0383.
Read further information on the NHS complaints procedure.
Healthwatch supports individuals by providing information about access to services and choice to help enable people to take more control of their own health, treatment and care and understand and use the choices available to them.