Some of my thoughts on writing a complaint to a health care trust as a patient

I have been thinking that I should put together some of the things that I consider and try to do when making a complaint to my local NHS trust regarding poor care. Please note these are my own personal thoughts but some people may find some of this useful so I thought I would blog! These thoughts also relate mostly to complaints made about poor mental health care.

1. I normally don’t write a letter of complaint until I am more stable than I had been during the time that the poor care took place. This isn’t always possible as sending a letter within a certain timeframe might also be a factor but it is worth thinking about.

2. I try and write some positive points about the care I received as normally because such great people work in the NHS I often am on the receiving end of some excellent care. It is vital to me to mention this as these comments can be passed on and I am a great believer in sharing good practice and hope that trusts would do the same.

3. I once went on a course about using Non Violent Communication effectively and always make sure I use these techniques when writing any complaint. The basic principle is using the ‘Fact, Feeling, Need, Request’ method of communication. State the facts, state clearly how you feel (without too much emotion), say what you need and what the request would be to meet the need. This approach is not easy and I might not of done it justice by my description here but I really swear by it and use it to help colleagues in difficult work situations as well.

4. I have a couple of good friends who often read my letters before I send them. This is mostly because I want to be factual, correct and not too emotional. Yes I want them to know how I have been affected but also not get carried away and so having someone to read through what I write is vital for me.

I would be interested to hear other tips people might have about complaining. It is vital that our voices are heard so that trusts can learn from the mistakes that are sadly all too often made.