Hospital care

4. Complaints

If you have any problems with the person's treatment or care, discuss these first with the named nurse. They should explain why things went wrong and how they will be put right.

Alternatively, you may prefer to contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) based at the hospital, if you are in England and Wales. If you are in Northern Ireland, you can contact the Patient and Client Council (PCC), a national body which performs a similar role (see 'Other useful organisations' at the end of this section for details). PALS and PCC both act on behalf of patients and families, and liaise with hospital staff to help resolve problems and concerns quickly.

Use the following tips to effectively make a complaint:

  • Stay calm and polite
  • Be specific about your concerns - for example, on three occasions you came in and saw that the drugs on the table had not been taken. It may help you to have the details written down with dates and times
  • Be clear about what you would like to see happen to resolve your complaint.

If it is not possible to sort the problem out on the spot, keep brief notes, as it is easy to forget details. The notes should include:

  • what occurred and when
  • who you contacted or discussed it with
  • what their response was.

If the problem still cannot be resolved, ask to see the ward manager or make an appointment with the consultant.