This factsheet is about complaints about the NHS in Wales, other than complaints about primary care (e.g. GPs, dentists, pharmacies) and continuing care. Please see the separate fact sheets for information on these topics. It should be read together with our ‘How to Complain’ webpage, available on the ‘Making A Complaint’ tab.
We can consider complaints about the care and treatment patients receive from the NHS in Wales. Complaints from patients or their representatives should, in the first instance, be brought to the attention of the relevant local Health Board or Trust. You can either complain in person to a member of staff, or you can write to the Health Board with details of your complaint. The Health Board should then investigate your concerns and respond to you in writing, explaining what will happen next and the options open to you – normally within about six weeks.
This is set out in a process for considering concerns about the NHS called Putting Things Right (PTR). We can also consider complaints made to us within one year of the matters complained about (or within one year of you becoming aware of the issue). If your complaint is about something that happened more than a year ago, but you complained to the Health Board (or Trust) within one year, you should complain to us within twelve weeks of the Health Board’s (or Trust’s) response.
We can look at the care the patient received and ask our clinical advisers to consider whether the treatment provided was appropriate. Examples of what we may consider include:
We can also consider whether the Health Board’s staff dealt with you in a reasonable manner. Examples of this sort of issue include:
If we find that the treatment provided fell below an appropriate standard (information available on the ‘Clinical Standards’ page, under the ‘For Service Provider’ tab) or that there were some administrative failings, we may recommend that the Health Board takes action to remedy the situation as far as is reasonably possible.
We are independent and impartial. We cannot order public bodies to do what we recommends – but, in practice, they almost always do.
We will need to judge whether the treatment/care provided was of an appropriate standard and bearing in mind the setting in which it was being provided. For example, care provided in a general hospital would not be judged against the standards that would apply in a specialist unit. More information can be found on the ‘Clinical Standards’ page, under the ‘For Service Providers’ tab.
Under PTR, the Health Board must consider if the person making the complaint (or the person they represent) has suffered harm due to it failing in its duty of care. If the Health Board considers that this is the case, it may offer you redress. This might include remedial treatment or financial compensation. Please note that we cannot refer a complaint back to the PTR process once we has started an investigation. If you want your complaint to be considered under PTR, you must do this before asking us to investigate your complaint.
Your local Community Health Council (CHC) can provide free help and support with making your complaint. Contact details for your local CHC can be obtained via your local telephone directory.
Alternatively, you can obtain them through the Board of Community Health Councils in Wales’ website at www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/899/home or via their helpline on 02920 235 558.