Raising a concern or making a complaint about health services

If you are unhappy with the treatment you receive from the health and social care service in Northern Ireland, the quality of care provided by a nursing home or treatment you have paid for at a private clinic, you have the right to raise a concern or raise a complaint.

Different ways you can raise a concern or complaint

You are many ways to raise your concern or complaint.

These include:

  • face to face
  • via telephone
  • in a letter
  • via email

You should try to provide details of:

  • how to contact you
  • who or what you are complaining about
  • where and when the event that caused your complaint happened
  • if possible, what you would like to be done to address your complaint  

You should try to complain as soon as possible, usually within six months of you becoming aware that you have a cause for complaint and normally no longer than 12 months after the event.

But you don’t have to wait – if you are unhappy with something, you can speak to any of the staff who are dealing with your treatment or care and they will try to resolve your concerns straight away.  

You can also raise a concern or complain on someone else’s behalf, although you will generally need their consent.

Services you can complain about

 You can raise a concern or make a complaint about any of the following health services:

  • Health and Social Care Services
  • Family Practitioner Services
  • Regulated Establishments and Agencies
  • Independent Sector Providers
  • Self-Funded Care or Treatment

For more information on each of these service areas see below.

Health and Social Care Services

If you have a concern or complaint about a health and social care service, such as those services provided in a hospital or social care services provided in the community, you can raise your concern or complaint with the Complaints Manager at your local health and social care Trust.

Family Practitioner Services

If you have a concern or complaint about services provided by Family Practitioner Services such as family doctors, dentists, pharmacist or optician, you should in the first instance make your complaint to the practice or practitioner for local resolution.

You can also contact the Health and Social Care (HSC) Board’s complaints manager who will help you with your complaint.

Regulated Establishments and Agencies

If you have a concern or complaint about services provided by a regulated establishment or agency such as residential home, nursing home or domiciliary care agency, you should in the first instance raise your concerns or make your complaint to the service provider for local resolution where possible.

This may be with the manager of the home or the registered person for the establishment. You can also contact the local Health and Social Care Trust who have commissioned the care either on your behalf or your family member’s behalf.

If you need to contact the Trust, contact the Trust’s Complaints Manager..

Independent Sector Providers

If you have a concern or complaint about services provided by an Independent Sector Provider such as a private clinic, you should in the first instance raise your concerns or make your complaint to the service provider for local resolution where possible.

This could be either through their complaints department, local management or registered person for the establishment. If the treatment you received was commissioned by a HSC Trust, you can also contact the HSC Trust who will investigate your concern or complaint as part of their Trust complaints process.

Self-Funded Care or Treatment

If you have self-funded your care or treatment or those of a family member such a residential or nursing home care or private treatment with an Independent Sector Provider, you should in the first instance raise your concerns or make your complaint to the service provider for local resolution where possible.

The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA)

While the RQIA does not have the legal powers to investigate individual complaints about health and social care services, Regulated Establishments and Agencies, Independent Sector providers or about self-funded care, if a concern is raised with RQIA about these services, they will use this information to inform their inspection or review work.

Help with making a complaint

Health and Social Care Trust Complaints Managers can provide you with help and information on how to raise a concern or make a complaint about health and social care services provided by the Trust or commissioned by the Trust from regulated establishments and agencies or independent healthcare providers.

The Health and Social Care (HSC) Board’s complaints manager can provide you with help about Family Practitioner Services.

You can also get practical help on how to raise a concern or make a complaint from the Patient and Client Council.  

Answering your concern or complaint

Your complaint will be acknowledged within two or three working days of receipt. You should receive a full response within 10 days if your complaint was about a family doctor, dentist, pharmacist or optician and made directly.  

If the complaint has been made with the help of the HSC Board’s complaints manager a response takes 20 days. If your complaint was about a hospital or social care service, you should receive a full response within 20 working days.

Some complaints take longer to resolve than others. You should be told if this is the case and be given an explanation.

If you are not satisfied with the response you receive

If you are not happy with the final decision of the provider organisation, you can refer your complaint to the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO) . NIPSO will look at your complaint and decide whether they should investigate it. 

Contacts

Belfast HSC Trust
Complaints Office, McKinney House (7th Floor), Musgrave Park Hospital, Belfast, BT9 7JB

Telephone: 028 9504 8000
Email: complaints@belfasttrust.hscni.net
Website: Belfast HSC Trust

Northern HSC Trust
Complaints / Service User Experience Office, Northern Health and Social Care Trust Headquarters, Bretten Hall, Antrim Area Hospital Site, Bush Road, Antrim, BT41 2RL

Telephone: 028 9442 4655
Email: user.feedback@northerntrust.hscni.net
Website: Northern HSC Trust

South Eastern HSC Trust
Complaints Department, Lough House, Ards Community Hospital, Church Street, Newtownards, BT23 4AS

Telephone: 028 9056 1427
Email: complaints@setrust.hscni.net
Website: South Eastern HSC Trust

Western Trust
Complaints Department, Altnagelvin Area Hospital, Glenshane Road, Londonderry, BT47 6SB

Telephone: 028 7134 5171 ext 214142
Direct dial: 028 7161 1226
Email: complaints.department@westerntrust.hscni.net
Website: Western HSC Trust

Southern Trust
Service User Feedback Team Southern Health and Social Care Trust
Beechfield House, Craigavon Area Hospital site, 68 Lurgan Road, Portadown, BT63 5QQ

Telephone: 028 3756 4600
Email: complaints@southerntrust.hscni.net
Website: Southern HSC Trust

NI Ambulance Service HSC Trust
Administrative and Complaints Manager, Headquarters, Site 30, Knockbracken Healthcare Park, Saintfield Road, Belfast, BT8 8SG

Telephone: 028 9040 0999 / 028 9040 0901
Email: complaints@nias.hscni.net
Website: NI Ambulance Service

Health and Social Care Board
Complaints Office, 12-22 Linenhall Street, HSC Board Headquarters, Belfast, BT2 8BS

Telephone: 028 9536 3893
Email: complaints.hscb@hscni.net
Website: Health and Social Care Board

Patient and Client Council
2nd Floor, Centre House, 79 Chichester Street, Belfast BT1 4JE

Freephone: 0800 917 0222
Freepost: Patient and Client Council
Email: complaints.pcc@hscni.net
Website: Patient and Client Council

Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority
9th Floor, Riverside Tower, 5 Lanyon Place, Belfast, BT1 3BT

Telephone: 028 9536 1111
Email: info@rqia.org.uk
Website: Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority

Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO)
Progressive House, 33 Wellington Place, Belfast, BT1 6HN

Telephone: 028 9023 3821
Freepost NIPSO
Freephone: 0800 34 34 24
Email: nipso@nipso.org.uk
Website: Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman

Business Services Organisation
Complaints Office, 6th Floor, 2 Franklin Street, Belfast, BT2 8DQ

Telephone: 028 9536 3252 and 0300 555 0113
Email: complaints.bso@hscni.net
Website: Business Services Organisation

Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service
Complaints Co-ordinator, Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT9 7TS

Telephone: 028 9032 1414
Website: NI Blood Transfusion Service

Public Health Agency
Complaints Office, Level 4, 12-22 Linenhall Street, Belfast, BT2 8BS

Telephone: 028 9536 3429 and 0300 555 0114
Email: complaints.pha@hscni.net
Website: Public Health Agency

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