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How to Make a Formal Complaint

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					A Guide to Making a Complaint Against the NHS, a Government Department or Agency Introduction This guide to complaining contains some general advice on how to complain effectively and will hopefully help you resolve your complaint at an early stage. Before contacting the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman about your complaint, it is a good idea to try and solve the problem with the body you wish to complain about. Most public bodies do have internal complaints procedures and you should always ask them what steps you should follow to submit your complaint. In the interests of fairness and to try and get your problem solved as quickly as possible the Ombudsman would usually expect you tell the body concerned that you are unhappy and allow them the opportunity to sort out the problem. She will not usually become involved in a complaint before this has happened. How to a make a complaint  Ask the organisation for a copy of their complaints procedure so you know what to do and when.

Focus on the Main Problem   Identify the issue you want solved and give clear details to the organisation to help them resolve the issue Before telephoning or writing jot down the main points of the complaint and what you want done to resolve it.

Complain in Writing        Experience has shown it is best to make your complaint in writing. Head your letter “Complaint”. Write clearly and concisely, sticking to the facts. If you have difficulty expressing yourself ask friends, family or perhaps a Citizens Advice Bureau to help you. Set out the letter in a logical order and include your name and contact details, relevant dates and times and a description of what happened. If detailing events try to bullet point them and keep them in the order they happened. Attach copies of any documents that are relevant to your complaint. At the end of the letter state what you want as an outcome to the complaint. This can be an apology, an explanation of what happened or other action taken to put the matter right. Make sure your desired
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Last updated: 3 March 2006

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outcome is realistic – this will give them a greater chance of sorting out your complaint. Keep a copy of your letter and a record of when you sent it and who to.

Complaining by Telephone          Although it is better to complain by letter or e-mail, it may be helpful to telephone first. Before calling make notes of what you would like to discuss. When the phone is answered ask the name of the person and their position. Although not always required, most organisations will give you some way of identifying their staff. Tell the person about your complaint following the notes you have made. As each point is discussed cross them off your list. Ask if they can help. If not who you should contact. Make notes of the time and date of the conversation and what was discussed. If you get an agreement to resolve your complaint follow up with a letter to confirm what has been agreed. If you remain unhappy ask who to address a written complaint to. Although it may be difficult you should try to remain calm and polite throughout the conversation.

What Next     If you don’t receive a response to your complaint, send a copy of your letter again and ask what happened. You may want to telephone first to ask if they received your original complaint. If you remain unhappy ask the organisation who you can complain to next. At this stage you may want to contact our helpline on 0845 015 4033. One of our advisers will be able to assist you with what to do next.

Last updated: 3 March 2006

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