Make a complaint

NHS Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (the CCG) has a complaints team to handle complaints about the funding of, and access to, the majority of NHS services (but not GPs, dentists, opticians or pharmacists). Exceptionally, we will also handle complaints about other local NHS services such as hospitals and community services or offer to co-ordinate a complex complaint that involves several services across health and social care.

If you have not spoken to the team or organisation that is directly caring for you or making decisions about your access to services, we may have to contact them (with your consent) to discuss your concerns. We handle all complaints in line with the CCG’s complaints policy and the current NHS complaints regulations.

Please click on the FAQs below for more information about the complaints process:

Who can help me make a complaint?

You can ask a person you trust to represent you and be our first point of contact during the complaints process. You will need to provide your consent for them to represent you. The organisation who receives the complaint will arrange to send a consent form that you will need to complete, sign and return.

If you are not sure where to start with writing down your complaint, you may find it helpful to use our complaints form. You can post or email this to us. It includes the consent we will need to handle your concerns or for you to agree to another person making a complaint on your behalf.

You can receive free and independent help from a complaints advocacy service. You can find the advocacy service for the area where you live online.

You can also make a verbal complaint and talk to a member of our team on the telephone to discuss how best to take your concerns forward (see "Can I make a verbal or informal complaint" below).

Is there a time limit for making a complaint about the NHS?

Yes.

It is important that you raise a complaint as soon as possible after you realise there is an issue that needs to be investigated and responded to. The longer you wait, the less likely it will be that we can achieve a satisfactory outcome for you.

A complaint about the NHS should be submitted within 12 months of the main event concerned occurring, or within 12 months of an issue coming to your notice.

If you have good reason for not making a complaint within this time limit, it is important that you explain why, so that we can consider whether to exercise discretion to consider the complaint, even though it is out of time.

If it will not be possible to investigate and respond to your complaint, even if you have good reason for the delay, we will inform you of the reasons why. This is usually because the records of events or staff involved are no longer available to investigate.

If we are not satisfied with the reasons why you have delayed making a complaint, we are not obliged to investigate or respond to it. Your options in this situation will be explained in our decision letter.

Can I make a verbal or informal complaint?

Yes.

If you make a verbal complaint on the telephone, a written record should be made and a copy provided to you. You will have the opportunity to confirm if this is a correct record of the issues to be responded to. It will be handled under our complaints policy and in accordance with the current NHS complaints regulations.

If you have a straightforward issue that can be resolved within 24 hours and no later than the end of the next working day, this will be recorded as a “concern” and is usually responded to on the telephone or via email by a member of the complaints team or a manager of the service concerned. If the issue is not resolved within this timescale, or you ask that it is dealt with as a “complaint” we will handle it in line with our complaints policy and in accordance with the current NHS complaints regulations.

Any complex concerns received in writing (including email) will usually be handled as a complaint under our complaints policy and in accordance with the current NHS complaints regulations. If you do not require a response, or do not want your concerns to be handled or recorded as a “complaint”, please indicate this in your email and we will take this into account when considering our next steps.

Can I make an anonymous complaint?

Yes.

If you do not wish to provide us with your real name or that of the patient, we will do our best to respond to your concerns. However, please be aware that anonymous complaints may limit the scope of our investigation or response.

If you do not feel able to provide us with your real name, please tell us how we should address you and any correspondence we send to you.

Anonymous complaints are recorded and categorised in the same way as other complaints so that they contribute to our monitoring and analysis of trends and the quality of services.

Please be assured that making a complaint will not prejudice or have a negative impact on the healthcare services being provided. Complaints documentation must not be kept in a patient’s medical records. Any evidence that such has occurred is taken very seriously and should be advised to the complaints team urgently.

Who should I send my complaint to?

The NHS complaints process involves two stages:

  1. “Local resolution” - the service provider or the commissioner of that service
  2. “Independent review” - The Health Service Ombudsman

Contact the organisation that manages the service you have concerns about.

In the first instance, you can raise your concern about your treatment or a service by either contacting the manager of the service concerned or the complaints team of the organisation which manages the service.

You can write to, email or telephone most NHS complaints teams. Some services also have a fax number, an online form that you can complete on their website, or a Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) that you can visit in person. If you need the assistance of a translator or advocate, please ask.

If you would like the CCG to be aware of your complaint, you can always send us a copy of your concerns so that we are aware you are unhappy with the service we have commissioned (planned and paid for). Please tell us who you have sent your complaint to. If you give permission to the service you are complaining about to send us a copy of their response, we will keep this on file and use it to monitor any trends or areas of concern.

A list of local NHS services in West Sussex that may have provided your care is available.

You may find it helpful to search for a service and its contact details on the NHS Choices website.

If you feel unable to speak to the team caring for you directly:

You can contact the CCG and we will arrange for your complaint to be investigated at the first stage, called “Local Resolution”. The CCG will need your permission to contact the service you are complaining about and it will need to be a service the CCG has commissioned (planned and paid for).

The response the CCG sends to you will be copied to that service for their records. We cannot investigate a complaint about another organisation without your consent and we cannot re-investigate or review a complaint that has already been responded to formally by a provider organisation.

If you have a complaint about a decision or action of the CCG:

Please contact us directly. Details of how to contact our complaints service are at the bottom of this page.

If you have a complaint about a GP, dentist, optician, pharmacist

You should contact either the manager of that service or NHS England. To find the address of your GP, dentist, optician or pharmacist, please see the NHS Choices website.

To contact NHS England, please call 0300 311 2233 or email their complaints team at england.contactus@nhs.net and they will be able to investigate your complaint for you.

I have not received a response to my complaint – what do I do?

All complaints must be acknowledged within three working days of receipt. If you have not received an acknowledgement letter or email a week after sending your complaint to us, it may not have been received and you should contact us again to ensure it has not been lost.

Once a complaint investigation is started, you should have received a letter or email to confirm this, stating the timescales involved. Updates are usually issued five working days before the response is due, if there is a reason the timescale will not be met. If that date has passed with no update, please contact us quoting your reference number.

It is your right to refer your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman if it has not been concluded within six months of receipt. The Ombudsman’s number is 0345 015 4033 or you can complete an online form on the Ombudsman's website.

I am not happy with the response, who do I contact next?

If you are unhappy with the response provided by another organisation, you will have to either ask that organisation to provide you with a meeting or further response; or take your complaint to the second stage of the complaints process for “independent review”. Independent reviews are undertaken by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).

If you are unhappy with a response issued by the CCG, please contact us explaining what is not satisfactory and what we may do to help reach an acceptable outcome. If the CCG cannot resolve your concerns to your satisfaction, you will need to consider taking your complaint to the PHSO for independent review.

How do I make a complaint about a healthcare professional?

If you are concerned about the suitability of a healthcare professional to perform their clinical duties, you may wish to contact their registration body as well as the place where they work.

Contacting the CCG's complaints team

To contact the CCG’s complaints team please:

If you would like more information please contact a member of the complaints team via the details above.

The Ombudsman’s number is 0345 015 4033 or you can complete an online form on the Ombudsman's website.