Many people feel uncomfortable complaining about the standard of medical care they have received, even if they suspect that they have legitimate grounds for dissatisfaction. This can be down to a reluctance to cause problems based on the feeling that those working in the medical profession are under a great deal of pressure, or it could be that the victim of medical mistreatment may still be suffering the physical and psychological effects and feel unable to cope with the stress of registering a formal complaint. Either way, it is the right of everyone to receive an explanation if they feel that they have not received the due standard of care.
In the case of relatively minor complaints – i.e. those instances where there has been no major injury or illness resulting from the medical treatment, or if the complaint concerns rude or dismissive treatment, the cheapest and quickest route is to write a letter to the doctor, hospital or authority concerned requesting an explanation.
A copy of the letter should always be retained by you in case you are required to prove that you sent one, at a later date. The likely outcome of this is that you will be asked to attend an informal meeting, with the aim of clarifying matters and bringing the dispute to a fast conclusion. In the majority of such cases, this is preferable to the lengthy process of undertaking a negligence case.
Should the information you are provided with at this meeting fail to satisfy you, or if the illness or injury received is of a more serious nature, then you may wish to take the matter further. The fact is that, even if you are offered an apology by either the physician or the authority involved, that does not automatically mean that there is no case of negligence to answer.
Should you decide to involve a legal representative in the matter, they can contact the physician or authority on your behalf, but this may be taken as evidence that you are planning a clinical negligence claim – which would invalidate any entitlement to have your case investigated by the NHS complaint investigation procedures.