This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Cardiac Pacemakers and Devices (FOISA Request)'.

Making a complaint
about the NHS 
Version 4
Produced in October 2011
Revision date Spring 2012
& Arran
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In the NHS in Scotland, we try to give you the best 
possible care and treatment. We value comments, 
good or bad, to help us improve the service. If you  
are not happy about anything, please let us know.
This leaflet explains how to complain using the NHS 
complaints procedure.
 What can I complain about?
Things you can complain about include:
care or treatment you have had or are having in  
the NHS
anything to do with the place where you are seen, 
for example a doctor’s surgery, a hospital, a prison 
health centre or an ambulance 
any member of NHS staff involved in your care 
how our services in your local area are organised,  
if this has affected your care or treatment.
If your complaint also involves another part of the  
NHS or another organisation, such as social services, 
we may need to pass it to someone there. We will tell 
you who is dealing with your complaint. 
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 What can’t I complain about?
There are some things you can’t complain about 
through the NHS complaints procedure.  
These include:
private health care or treatment
services not provided or funded by the NHS, and
something you are taking legal action about.
The NHS complaints procedure doesn’t usual y provide 
financial compensation. For advice about financial 
compensation, you should contact your local citizens 
advice bureau or a solicitor. 
 Who can complain?
You can complain if you have:
had or are having NHS care or treatment, or
visited or used our services or facilities.
You can complain for someone else if you:
have their agreement to complain − the patient would 
also need to agree that staff could look at their health 
records if necessary 
are a child’s parent, guardian or main carer and your 
child is not mature enough to understand how to 
make a complaint
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have a welfare power of attorney or a welfare 
guardianship order for someone who cannot make 
decisions for themselves, and the order specifies  
that you have the power to make a complaint about 
health care
are a relative of, or had a relationship with, a patient 
who has died and you were concerned about how 
they were treated before they died, or
are acting as an advocate for the patient (see page 8 
for more about advocacy).
 How long do I have to make a complaint?
We have a time limit for complaints. Normal y, you  
must make your complaint:
within six months of the event you want to complain 
about, or
within six months of you finding out that you have a 
reason to complain − but no longer than 12 months 
after the event.
However, if you feel the time limit should not apply to 
your complaint, please speak to the person dealing 
with the complaint. Sometimes we can accept a 
complaint after the time limit.
You can complain to the Scottish Public Services 
Ombudsman about a decision by the NHS not 
to accept your complaint (see page 9 for more 
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 How to complain
 What should I do?
If you can, first talk to a member of staff involved  
in your care. If you do this, we can try to sort out  
your complaint on the spot. 
If you are not able to talk to the NHS staff involved  
in your care, you can ask to speak to a senior 
member of staff or the complaints officer for the  
NHS organisation involved. 
You can complain in person, by phone, or in writing. 
When complaining, you should give:
your full name and address (and the patient’s 
name and address if you are complaining for 
them), and
as much helpful information as possible about 
what happened, where it happened and when.
You can also make your complaint by fax, 
email or textphone (if available), but if you do this 
other people may be able to see your personal 
 Who should I complain to?
You should first complain directly to the person or 
organisation providing the service.
If you do not feel able to do this, contact your local 
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NHS board to find out who can help you with your 
complaint – see page 10 of the leaflet. 
If your complaint is about NHS 24 or the Golden 
Jubilee National Hospital, you should first speak to 
the person who was dealing with you. If you do not 
feel able to do this, speak to the complaints officer at 
the organisation. The contact details are on page 11.
If your complaint is about the Scottish Ambulance 
Service, you should complain to their headquarters. 
The contact details are on page 11.
If your complaint is about the State Hospital, you 
should complain to the complaints officer there.  
The contact details are on page 12.
 What happens after I have complained?
We will write to you within three working days of 
getting your complaint. 
This letter should:
tell you what action we will take to look into  
your complaint
offer you the chance to talk to a member of  
staff about the complaint
give you information about independent advice 
and support (see page 7 for more information), 
give you information about conciliation or 
mediation services if this may be helpful  
(see page 8 for more information). 
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We will keep information about you confidential.   
To investigate your complaint, we may have to 
talk to other NHS staff about you or show them 
your health records. If you don’t want us to share 
information from your health records, you should  
tell us when you make your complaint, but bear  
in mind that this may make it more difficult to look 
into your complaint. 
We will make a record of your details and 
complaint, and use it to help us make services 
  When will I get a full response?
We will write to you with a full response within  
20 working days of receiving your complaint.
If your complaint is about a GP surgery, an NHS 
dental surgery, an NHS optician’s practice, or a 
pharmacy, we will respond within 10 working days.
In some cases, we may need more time to give you 
a full response and won’t be able to keep to these 
timescales. If this happens, we will let you know and 
tell you why.
In our response we will let you know the result of our 
investigation. We will:
show that we have looked into your complaint  
and reply to all the points raised in it 
offer you an apology where things have gone 
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explain what we will do to stop what you 
complained about happening again
if necessary, explain why nothing more can be 
done about some parts of your complaint
offer you the chance to talk to a member of staff if 
there is anything in the letter you don’t understand, 
include information about the Scottish Public 
Services Ombudsman in case you are unhappy 
with our response and want to take things further 
(see page 9 for more information). 
 Who can help me with my complaint?
 Independent advice and support 
If you would like to speak to someone for advice or help 
with making a complaint please ask a member of staff 
for details about the Independent Advice and Support 
Service (IASS) which is available through local citizens 
advice bureaux. See page 10 for contact details.
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If you find it difficult to make a complaint yourself and 
want someone to speak for you, you can ask for an 
independent advocate. An independent advocate is 
someone from outside the NHS who can speak for 
you or help you express your views. Your local NHS 
board or complaints officer will be able to tell you 
about advocacy services in your area.
 Conciliation or mediation 
Conciliation or mediation means bringing people 
together to try to resolve a problem. 
An independent conciliator or mediator can try to 
help you and the person you have complained about 
agree what should happen next. 
Conciliation or mediation can only be used if you and 
the person you’ve complained about both agree to it.
To find out more about conciliation or mediation, 
please ask the person who is dealing with your 
 What if I change my mind after I’ve complained?             
You can change your mind about making a complaint 
at any time. Please let us know as soon as possible. 
It would be helpful if you could write and tell us, but 
otherwise a phone call will do.
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What if I’m not happy about the way  
the NHS has handled my complaint?
 The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO)
If the NHS has ful y investigated your complaint and 
you are still not happy, you can ask the SPSO to 
consider your complaint further. 
The SPSO cannot normal y look at complaints 
more than 12 months after you became aware of 
the matter you want to complain about. Sometimes 
this time limit will not apply. Please contact the 
SPSO for more information.
The SPSO cannot look at matters that have been 
or are being considered in court.
If you are not happy with the way the NHS is dealing 
with your complaint, for example if you think it is taking 
too long, you can contact the SPSO.
The Ombudsman does not take up all cases and will 
decide whether or not to investigate your complaint 
See page 12 to find out how to contact the 
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  How to find out more
For more information about anything in this leaflet, 
the NHS inform Helpline on 0800 22 44 88 
(textphone 18001 0800 22 44 88)
your local citizens advice bureau (CAB) using the 
phone numbers below. You can also contact a 
bureau for independent advice and support.
Arran CAB: 01294 467 848 
East Ayrshire CAB: 01563 544 744
Irvine CAB: 01294 278 051
Largs CAB: 01475 673 586
Saltcoats CAB: 01294 467 848
Direct line for independent advice and support:
0800 328 2519 (freephone)
If you want to visit your local bureau you can find 
the address on the internet (
If you want to complain about NHS services in 
Ayrshire and Arran, contact:
Patient Relations and Complaints Department
NHS Ayrshire & Arran
Eglinton House
Ailsa Hospital
Dalmellington Road
Phone 01292 513 620
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Scottish Ambulance Service
To complain about the ambulance service, contact:
General Manager
Scottish Ambulance Service (South West Division)
Maryfield Road
Phone 01292 284 101
NHS 24
To complain about NHS 24, contact:
Patient Customer Relations Department
NHS 24
Caledonia House
Fifty Pitches Road 
Cardonald Park
G51 4ED 
Phone 0141 337 4501
Golden Jubilee National Hospital 
To complain about the Golden Jubilee National Hospital, 
Risk Manager  
NHS National Waiting Times Centre Board 
Golden Jubilee National Hospital 
Agamemnon Street 
G81 4DY
Phone 0141 951 5154
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State Hospital
To complain about the State Hospital, contact:
Complaints Officer
The State Hospital
ML11 8RP
Phone 01555 842 200
Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO)
The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
Freepost EH641
Phone 0800 377 7330
Text message 07900 494 372
 Information about health rights
Confidentiality – it’s your right explains how the 
NHS protects your personal health information.
How to see your health records explains your right 
to see or have a copy of your health record.
The NHS and You explains what you can expect 
from the NHS in Scotland, and what the NHS expects 
from you.
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Consent – it’s your decision explains how you 
should be involved in decisions about your health 
care and treatment.
Health care for overseas visitors is a set of 
factsheets explaining what NHS services overseas 
visitors can expect to receive while they are in 
Information for young people
Consent – your rights explains how you should 
be involved in decisions about your health care and 
Confidentiality – your rights tel s you how the health 
service keeps information about you private.
Have your say! Your right to be heard tel s you how 
to give feedback or make a complaint about the NHS.
Information for carers
Caring and consent explains your right to be 
involved in decisions about the health care of the 
adult you care for.
You can get this information from:
GP and dental surgeries, hospitals and other places 
where you get NHS care
the NHS inform Helpline on 0800 22 44 88  
(textphone 18001 0800 22 44 88)
your local citizens advice bureau (find your nearest 
bureau on the internet at or in your 
local phone book).
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Your comments please!
We want to know what you think about this leaflet. 
Please give us your comments: 
by post to HRIS, Consumer Focus Scotland, 
FREEPOST GW5277, Glasgow G1 3BR
by emailing us at
by visiting our website at and 
clicking on the ‘contact us’ link, or
by phoning us on 0141 226 5261
We have tried our best to make sure that the 
information in this leaflet is correct. However, the 
leaflet is for guidance only so you should not rely on 
it as a full statement of  the law. If  you are thinking 
about taking legal action, you should contact a 
solicitor, a citizens advice bureau or other advice 
Produced by Health Rights Information Scotland, 
a project of Consumer Focus Scotland, for the 
Scottish Government Health Directorates.

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To get this leaflet in another language or format, phone 
your local NHS board on 0800 169 1441.
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