Our guide to making a complaint about Health or Social Care in East Sussex

We often hear from people looking for more information and advice about what they can do if they have concerns or complaints.

Leaving feedback or making a complaint can feel daunting and scary, and you might be wondering whether it’s worth the time and effort. However, if you are unhappy with the treatment or care you, a family member, or someone you care for has received, leaving feedback or making a complaint can help providers and commissioners to learn, and improve services.

Our Guide to making a complaint about Health or Social Care in East Sussex provides you with information about how to leave feedback and things to consider if you feel you would like to make a complaint. It also outlines how to complain about different health and care services in East Sussex.

The drop down sections below set out the most common questions we get asked about feedback and complaints. Each section sets out our advice, which can also be found in the above guide.

When issues arise, it’s always best to mention your concern to the member of staff you are dealing with, or their manager as they may be able to sort things out for you.

If raising issues with health or care services for ‘local resolution’, it is useful to keep a note of:

  • the dates and times when you speak to someone about your concern
  • the names of the people you speak to
  • what was discussed
  • the response you were given to your concern
  • what you have been told will happen next

If you are still not happy after trying informal resolution directly with the service, you might like to consider making a formal complaint.

What can I achieve through making a complaint?

If you are unhappy with the treatment or care you, a family member, or someone you care for has received, you can make a complaint.

You may decide not to make a complaint because you are worried that it might make your situation worse. However, it is important that where services aren’t working as planned, NHS and social care providers learn from experiences and make changes where appropriate.

Before you make a complaint, it is helpful to think about what you want to achieve. This may include:

  • Getting access to the care you need
  • To improve the service, so other people don’t have the same experience you’ve had
  • To get an explanation of what went wrong and an apology
  • To hold an organisation or relevant staff to account
  • To seek compensation (check provider complaints policies regarding what can or can’t be pursued)

If informal resolution does not work for you, or you have significant concerns over any aspect of your care or the actions or decisions of any NHS organisation, you have the right to make a complaint.

Local services such as GP surgeries, dentists, pharmacies, hospitals and opticians all have their own complaints policy, which you can request to see. You should follow their procedure for making a complaint. Not doing so may mean it doesn’t get responded to.

You should complain directly to the organisation providing the service (the Service Provider) or to the organisation that buys the service (the Commissioner). However, you cannot complain to both the provider and commissioner.

If you are not comfortable complaining directly to your healthcare provider, or if you feel this is not appropriate, complaining to the commissioner of the service may be the right option for you.

Different health and care services in East Sussex are run by different organisations.

Contact details for some local commissioners and providers are available in our Complaints Guide.

If you are unhappy with a service provided by Adult Social Care and Health, contact the person you have been dealing with or their manager. Often things can be put right quickly.

If you have raised your issue with the service or would rather talk to someone else, please contact East Sussex County Council’s Adult Social Care and Health complaints team.

The complaints team are available for support and advice, as well as dealing with formal complaints.

Email: asccomplaintsfeedback@eastsussex.gov.uk

Telephone: 01273 481 242


Advocacy Services for complaints about NHS services

In East Sussex, if you need help making a complaint about an NHS service you can get independent advice and support from The Advocacy People.

The Advocacy People can help if you are unhappy with the service you, or someone else, has received from the NHS. This is called Independent Health Complaints Advocacy (or IHCA).

Advocates will:

  • take time to understand your situation
  • help you decide what you want to achieve by making a complaint
  • help you understand the complaints’ process
  • explore your options at every stage of the complaint
  • help you decide what you want to do and how you want to do it
  • act on your direction if you don’t feel able to take action yourself
  • help you write letters to the right people
  • go with you to a Local Resolution Meeting with medical professionals

Advocates won’t:

  • investigate your complaint
  • make any decisions for or about you
  • tell you what to do or give advice

Contact The Advocacy People via:

Telephone: 0330 440 9000

Email: info@theadvocacypeople.org.uk

Website: www.theadvocacypeople.org.uk/services/nhs-complaints-advocacy

Mailing address: The Advocacy People, PO Box 375, Hastings, East Sussex, TN34 9HU

Please note that Independent Health Complaints Advocates are unable to help with taking legal action, NHS employee disciplinary procedures or complaints about private health services.


Advocacy Services for people eligible for Adult Social Care provision

In East Sussex, POhWER provides several independent advocacy services, which can help people to be involved in decisions being made about their care.

An independent advocate can support and empower you to speak up for yourself, or to speak up on someone’s behalf.

If you want to make a complaint about Adult Social Care, you might want to use an independent advocate to help you understand the complaints process and put your views across effectively.

To check eligibility or to access independent advocacy services contact POhWER via:

Email: pohwer@pohwer.net

Telephone: 0300 456 2370

Website: https://www.pohwer.net/east-sussex

For more information about independent advocacy services in East Sussex please read our article here.

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