Making a formal complaint

If you are still unhappy after talking with our Patient Advice & Liaison Service, you are very welcome to make a complaint.

To make a complaint you can:

  • call us
  • email us
  • write to us

You can also use our online form.

Writing a complaint

Ideally, all complaints should be made as soon as possible after the events that you want to complain about took place.  This makes it easier for everyone to remember what happened.  Complaints should be made within a year of the date of the event.

Please provide:

  • As much information as you can
  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Are you the patient?
  • Date of your stay
  • Which hospital you visited
  • Name of the ward

If you're raising more than one concern, make the points that you would like answered clear.  This will help us to cover all your concerns.

You can ask a friend or relative to raise a concern or complaint on your behalf.  If you do, we'll ask you to sign a consent form, giving us permission to disclose your personal information to this person. We must have this consent to be able to assist you with the complaint, and we may also need to prove the identity of the person contacting us on your behalf.

If you want to make a complaint, but are finding this difficult, please contact the complaints team and we'll tell you about the support available, or offer advice to make sure your concerns are heard. 

What can you expect when you make a complaint?

Someone from our Complaints Team will call you on the phone within three working days from receiving your complaint.  They will introduce themselves, and check that they have understood all of your concerns.

If we do not have your current phone number, we will write to you, either by email or by letter, to acknowledge your concerns, and arrange a time to talk with you.   This is to ensure we fully understand everything you wish to be investigated, and keep you updated throughout the complaints process.

When we begin our investigation, we'll let you know how long it is likely to take. We'll also keep you informed of progress.  If the investigation is going to take longer than first thought we'll let you know.

Once the investigation is complete, you'll receive a written response explaining the outcome of our investigation.  If we have identified areas where our services fell below the expected standard, we'll tell you what actions we intend to take to improve things.

What can’t we do?

Making a complaint will not always resolve everybody’s issues. There are some things a complaint investigation can’t do, including:

  • Disciplinary issues
  • 'Strike off' a health professional or suspend their registration
  • Complaints about private treatment unless it was paid for by the NHS
  • If your complaint has already been investigated and concluded
  • If the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has conducted and concluded their independent review
  • If you are seeking compensation from a legal perspective
  • If consent has not been given by the patient
  • If your MP (Member of Parliament) has written during Purdah (Parliament has dissolved for elections) we cannot respond directly to the MP, however we will contact you to see if you would like the Trust to respond directly to you instead
  • If a patient has died and you are not the named next of kin/or the executor of the will.

If you're still unhappy

If, after you have received our written response, you're still unhappy you can request an independent review of your complaint.

You'll need to write to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), requesting a review.  You should usually take your complaint to the PHSO within a year of when you first became aware of the problem, although we would welcome the chance to take a further review of your complaint.

We can offer you a local resolution meeting.  This would involve senior staff, yourself and anyone you would like to be with you.  The meeting would be recorded and 10 working days after the meeting, a recorded copy of the meeting would be sent to you by recorded delivery. 

More support for you

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has produced some additional support which you may find useful:

Useful contacts

Healthwatch Kent is an independent patient organisation set up to listen to your experiences of using health or social care services in Kent.  You can share your experience with them and they will ensure the right people hear your feedback and use it to improve for others.

The Advocacy People is a free and independent advocacy service that provides support and advice with any National Health Service complaint.

P O Box 375

East Sussex TN34 9HU
0330 440 9000

Care Quality Commission (CQC) is an independent regulator for all health and social care services in England.  It cannot investigate an individual complaint but likes to hear about patients’ experience as part of its role in monitoring services.

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman makes final decisions on complaints that have not been resolved by the NHS, government departments and some other public organisations.  The service is free for everyone.

To take a complaint to the Ombudsman, go to www.ombudsman.org.uk/making-complaint or call 0345 015 4033.