When receiving NHS care, you or any of your relatives have the right to:
- give feedback
- make comments
- raise concerns
- make a complaint
The NHS welcomes all forms of feedback and uses it to improve services. Good feedback can help to identify areas of best practice. Negative feedback can help to identify areas of concern. It also ensures that action is taken so that the same problems do not happen again.
You have the right to be given information about how to give feedback, make comments, raise concerns, or make a complaint about the care you have received and the services you have used. You also have the right to be informed about how any feedback, comments, concerns and complaints you make will be handled.
To give feedback or make a complaint you can:
- speak to a member of staff – this can be the best way to give feedback and resolve issues quickly
- contact your NHS health board by phone, email or online
You can also give your feedback by sharing your experience on the Care Opinion website. This is an independent, non-profit organisation. It enables people to post public, but anonymous, stories about the health and care services that they, or someone they know, have received.
Advice and support
You have the right to independent advice and support when providing feedback or making a complaint.
You may ask (and if you have a mental health disorder you have a right) to have an independent advocate to help you give your views.
You can contact the Patient Advice and Support Service (PASS) for independent advice and support when making a complaint.
PASS offers free and confidential information, advice and support to anyone who uses the NHS in Scotland.
PASS is a service offered by Citizens Advice Scotland. They can provide information, advice and support to:
- help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a patient
- help you access the treatment care and support you need
- provide feedback, comments, concerns or complaints about the NHS
PASS can be accessed at any Citizens Advice Bureau in Scotland.
Find out where to access the PASS across Scotland
Mediation is a service where independent mediators help the relevant parties to reach an agreement.
You can request, or health boards may offer, to provide this service. Both parties must agree to take part before this can go ahead.
You can get help finding mediation services in your area by asking the Feedback and Complaints Officer at your local health board.
NHS complaints procedure
If you can, first talk to a member of staff involved in your care. If you do this, they can try to sort out your complaint on the spot.
If you can't or you do not wish to do this, you can ask to speak to:
- a senior member of staff, or
- the Feedback and Complaints Officer for the NHS organisation involved
If you prefer to complain in writing rather than in person or over the phone, you can send a letter or an email to the relevant NHS organisation.
Further advice if your complaint is about a GP, pharmacy, dentist or hospital
When making a complaint or raising a concern you can expect:
- it to be dealt with efficiently and be properly investigated
- a full explanation into how it has been investigated
- to be told what action has been or will be taken as a result
- an apology if a mistake has occurred
- the NHS to use your feedback to improve services
Patient Experience Programme
The Patient Experience Programme supports NHS Scotland in developing ways to use patients’ experiences. This helps to inform service design and planning across the health service and drives improvement.
As part of this, NHS health boards involve patients in providing feedback on their experiences of care. This is done through a range of ways, including:
- local surveys
- group discussions
In addition, there are 3 national experience surveys that provide information on the quality of health and care services from the perspective of those using them. These national surveys allow NHS health boards to compare with other areas of Scotland and to track their progress in improving the experience of patients.
The 3 national surveys are:
Duty of candour
If something goes wrong with your treatment or care, health and social care organisations have a duty to you or the person acting on your behalf to:
- be open and honest
- involve you in a review of what happened
- let you know how they will learn from what has happened
Read more about duty of candour
You have the right to take legal action and make a claim for compensation if you have been harmed by negligent treatment.
Negligent treatment is when care provided falls below the reasonable standard and this causes physical or mental injury or death.
You may be entitled to compensation if you can prove you have been harmed by a negligent act. If you think you may be entitled to compensation, you should seek legal advice.
The Law Society of Scotland has details of solicitors who specialise in handling negligence claims.
Concerns about your data
If your complaint is related to concerns about your health records, you have the right to take your complaint to the Information Commissioner's Office.
A judicial review is a court process that allows you to challenge a decision made by an NHS body because you think it is unlawful. It looks primarily at how a decision was made rather than what was decided.
You have the right to seek judicial review if your personal interests are affected by the decision or action of the board.
If you want a decision to be judicially reviewed, you should seek independent legal advice.