Whilst making your complaint, you might find that you want to pursue other avenues or outcomes which lie outside the NHS Complaints process, such as disciplinary action. This short guide will act as an index of the agencies to approach and give you a brief outline of their role. Contacting these organisations or making a submission is not normally something we can help you with.
The contact details for all the organisations below (and some other useful organisations) can be found at the end of this leaflet.
The General Medical Council – GMC
The primary role of the GMC is to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the public and ensuring standards of practise in medicine are met. They are the regulator of all doctors practising in England, and maintain a register with details about behaviour, health or performance that could prevent them from doing their job. They will deal with concerns raised by members of the public who have doubts over a doctor’s fitness to practise, and you can approach them if you feel that a doctor requires disciplinary action. A report is produced each year which demonstrates the support patients are likely to need in making complaints. This can be found at http://www.gmc-uk.org/publications/23435.asp?WT.mc_id=RLTC131016
They also work with medical schools to help devise the right curriculum and set the standards and values of doctors so they know how to behave with patients. All doctors must be familiar with and follow ‘Good Medical Practice’ and the explanatory guidance. This can be found at http://www.gmc-uk.org/guidance/index.asp?WT.mc_id=RLTC130422
A guide about what you can expect from your doctor has also been produced, which you may find helpful - http://www.gmc-uk.org/guidance/patients.asp?WT.mc_id=RLTC130423
If you feel you need to make a complaint and want to contact the GMC direct, in addition to the telephone number shown later, they have a web-page with relevant information. http://www.gmc-uk.org/concerns/21893.asp
Teaching materials relating to dealing with patients with learning disabilities are produced for doctors, however GMC are keen for patients with learning disabilities and their carers/families to know what to expect from their doctors, and to make their feelings known if they don’t think their doctors are treating them appropriately. This can be found at http://www.gmc-uk.org/learningdisabilities/
The Nursing and Midwifery Council – NMC
The NMC provide a similar role to that of the GMC. They set the standards for nurses and midwives to meet in their work, and have formulated a code of conduct which states how they must behave. Like the GMC, they also keep a register of all nurses and midwives in the UK and it is illegal to work as such without being on the NMC register. All nurses must prove annually that they fulfil the requirements for keeping their skills and knowledge up to date, and all midwifes are supervised throughout their careers to ensure this. Any concerns about a nurse’s capabilities should be made to the NMC, they will investigate and if necessary remove a nurse from the register for a period of time, or permanently if required.
The Health Professionals Council – HPC
The HPC is also a regulatory body set up to monitor a large number of other health care staff which you may come into contact with. They work to ensure a high standard of practise within the following professions:
Arts therapists, biomedical scientists, chiropodists, podiatrists, clinical scientists, dieticians, hearing aid dispensers, occupational therapists, operating department practitioners, orthoptists, paramedics, physiotherapists, practitioner psychologists, prosthetists / orthotists, radiographers, speech and language therapists as well as social workers in England.
If you have concerns regarding the fitness to practise of any of these, you can raise a complaint to the HPC. Action can be taken where necessary; including stopping someone from practising should there be sufficient concerns about their conduct.
General Dental Council - GDC
The GDC register dental professionals throughout the UK, including dentists, technicians, hygienists, dental nurses and orthodontists. They set the professional standards for them to follow and maintain a register of practitioners similar to the other regulatory bodies. Should you have concerns regarding a dentist’s fitness to practise, you can approach them to raise your complaint about this, but they are unable to help with concerns about the costs of treatment.
General Optical Council – GOC
The GOC is the regulator for optical professionals in the UK including optometrists, dispensing opticians, student opticians and optical businesses. Their role is also to protect the public by promoting high standards of education, performance and conduct amongst opticians. Any complaint about fitness to practise in this area should be directed to the GOC for investigation, and they will take any disciplinary action necessary.
Local Government Ombudsman – LGO
The Local Government Ombudsman looks at Public Health provision and complaints about council services, such as education admissions, appeal panels and adult social care providers, such as care homes and home care providers. Their role is to investigate complaints in a fair and independent way, after this has been raised with the service provider. Should you have any queries about making a complaint to their offices, you can contact the LGO on 0300 061 0614.
AvMA – Action against Medical Accidents
AvMA is a charitable organisation who can provide legal and medical support and advice if you are considering taking your complaint down the legal route. They provide a free and confidential helpline service, can give information on your rights as a patient, or medical explanations, and provide you with information about compensation and clinical negligence. They can also make a referral to an appropriate solicitor for your individual case. You may find it useful to speak to them if this is something you are considering as there are time limits for making a legal claim as there are for making a complaint. They can also provide information about the Coroner and Inquests if you wish to speak to someone impartial about this.
It is possible to go through the official NHS complaints process and the legal route at the same time, although the NHS organisation may choose to put the NHS complaint on hold until the legal challenge has been completed.
Useful contacts and addresses
The Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman
Tel: 0345 015 4033
General Medical Council
350 Euston Road
Tel: 0845 357 8001
Switchboard: 0845 357 8001
Nursing & Midwifery Council
1 Kemble Street
Tel: 020 7637 7181
Health Professional Council
184 Kennington Park Road
Tel: 0845 300 4472
General Dental Council
37 Wimpole Street
Tel: 0845 222 4141
General Optical Council
41 Harley Street
Tel: 020 7580 3898
General Pharmaceutical Council
25 Canada Square
Tel: 0203 713 8000
Optical Consumer Complaints Service
PO Box 219
Tel: 0844 800 5071
National Patient Safety Agency
4-8 Maple Street
Tel: 01138 252 525
The Law Society of England & Wales
Tel: 020 7242 1222
Community Legal Services Direct
Tel: 0845 345 4345
Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA)
44 High Street
Tel: 0845 123 2352
Data Protection Information Commissioner
Tel: 01625 545 745 or 0303 123 1113
Care Quality Commission
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tel: 03000 616 161
The Local Government Ombudsman
PO Box 4771
0300 061 0614
You can also text ‘call back’ to 0762 480 3014