Making a Complaint About your Family Doctor or GP

Bolt Burdon Kemp understands how daunting making a complaint about your healthcare can be, so to help you, here is our guide to making a complaint against your family doctor or GP.

In England and Wales you have the right to expect a reasonable standard of medical care. Unfortunately, sometimes this isn’t provided and medical negligence may occur. If you are unhappy with the care or treatment you have received from your family doctor or GP, you have the right to complain.

The NHS constitution states that all GP surgeries in England are required to have a written complaints policy. A copy of the surgery’s complaints procedure can be requested from their reception and can usually also be found on their website.

They must fully investigate your complaint and provide you with a prompt and comprehensive reply. Procedures and timescales may vary and will be outlined in your GP surgery’s complaints policy.

If you would like to make a complaint about treatment provided by a Private GP, the procedure is slightly different and you should usually write a letter directly to the doctor. You may also want to send the letter to the clinic where the treatment was provided.

See below for information on how to make a complaint in relation to treatment provided by your family doctor or GP.

If you would like to discuss your options, contact us for specialist advice from our friendly experts. Your claim will usually on a no-win, no-fee basis.

How to make a complaint

While the procedure may vary between practices, you can bring a complaint about a family doctor or GP in several ways:

  • By raising your concerns directly with the person who provided your care – this can be just by speaking with them. Keep a record of who you spoke to and when
  • If your concerns are not adequately addressed or you feel uncomfortable dealing directly with the person who provided your treatment, you can make a formal complaint by letter or email
  • If you do not feel comfortable raising the complaint yourself, you can ask someone-else to do so on your behalf

When to bring a complaint

  • The NHS complaints procedure says that a complaint should be brought within 12 months of the treatment that you are complaining about, but they are sometimes able to consider them after this time. The timescale to make a complaint in realtion to a private GP is likely to be similar
  • Remember that making a complaint does not prevent time from running towards the time limit for bringing a claim for compensation
  • If you are able to make a complaint quickly, this will mean that events are fresh in your mind. However, we appreciate that this may not always be possible when you are recovering from treatment or this is ongoing

What to include in your complaint

A complaint is your opportunity to express your dissatisfaction and seek an explanation about the treatment or care you have received. A formal complaint should be made in writing (by letter or email) and should include:

  • What your complaint is about and who it involves
  • The events that took place, and when they happened
  • Your questions about what occurred
  • Whether you would like a formal apology, or a meeting to discuss it
  • How you can be contacted

Who to address the complaint to

  • Your complaint should be addressed to the Practice Manager of the NHS GP surgery, although:
  • If you are unable to complain to the practice for any reason, you can address your complaint to NHS England – the national organisation responsible for all NHS GP care
  • Where your complaint is about private treatment provided by a GP, you should send the letter directly to them. If they work within a surgery or other healthcare provider, you should also send a copy of the letter to the Practice Manager

How your complaint should be handled

Once you have submitted a formal complaint, your GP and/or their surgery should:

  • Write to you to acknowledge the complaint
  • Investigate the issues raised in the complaint
  • Provide a comprehensive, written response to your complaint

What to do if you are unhappy with the outcome of your complaint

  • If you are complaining about your NHS GP, you can write to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), who will then investigate whether the complaints procedure has been followed correctly
  • If you are complaining about treatment provided by a private GP, you can contact the Independent Healthcare Sector Complaints Adjudication Service, who can provide guidance on the process that applies. They may be able to investigate how the original complaint was handled

If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of substandard care, please contact our medical negligence team on 020 7288 4800 or complete our online medical negligence enquiry form.

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