If you've had experience of using our services and would like to make a comment then please contact PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service). Your views are very important to us and we would like to hear where you think improvements are needed or where things have gone so well that you would like to share your thanks or gratitude with the staff involved. When things have not gone so well then you can be sure that we want to hear from you, so please get in touch with PALS.
How can PALS help? We understand that coming into hospital can be a very worrying time, whether you're a patient or relative or friend of a patient, so we want everyone to have the support they need at this time and PALS are here to help.
PALS is a support service set up within Queen Alexandra Hospital to allow patients and visitors to share their experience and be given advice or support needed to help resolve any problems quickly.
PALS can also liaise with the staff at the Service / Department / Ward involved on your behalf if you feel that you need some support in resolving problems or finding answers about your care or that of a family member or close friend.
The Trust’s Senior Executive Team regularly review the contacts that PALS receive so they can see where there are any recurring problems and make any improvements needed to try to make sure that everyone has a positive experience.
COMMENTS - It’s important that we use your feedback to continuously improve our standards of care so please feel free to get in touch with PALS if you have any suggestions of how to make things better. PALS will listen and pass your comments onto the areas involved to help make improvements for you as well as our future patients.
COMPLIMENTS - Every member of staff working for the Trust aims to provide the best possible care and support and we continue to receive messages of thanks every day. In one year, the Trust received 4,997 messages of thanks from patients and relatives. These are only the recorded compliments (cards, letters, e-mails), but we know that patients and relatives regularly express their gratitude to the staff personally, for which we are extremely grateful.
CONCERNS AND COMPLAINTS - Despite staff’s good intentions, we recognise that in a busy hospital environment, sometimes things can go wrong; so when this happens we would advise you to:
1. Speak up soon: By sharing your concerns you can also help us make sure that others don’t have the same poor experience. We know that sometimes it can feel uncomfortable or worrying to raise a concern, but we hope that you will feel confident to speak directly to senior members of staff in the area where the problem arose or talk to one of our PALS Team.
2. Get help on the spot: If you (or your relative/friend) are in hospital then we would ask you to discuss any concerns with the Nurse in Charge or the Matron on the ward. This allows the senior staff in that area to resolve problems quickly and provide any support that is needed. While a patient is in hospital and under our care we want to make sure that they are safe and being well cared for so when a concern or a complaint is made that involves an inpatient then we will try to resolve this as quickly as possible.
3. Make sure the patient is aware: If you are making a complaint on behalf of someone else, then we will need to ask them for their consent to share personal information with you, so it’s important that they are aware that you are making a complaint on their behalf before you contact us. Consent is not needed if you are complaining about:
Your child's care if they are under the age of 16 years
The care of an elderly relative or vulnerable patient who is unable to give consent, although you must advise us of the nature of their disability.
A relative who has died, as long as you are the next of kin or a close relative and would have a clear interest in their care.
FORMAL COMPLAINTS PROCESS: When there has been a serious incident that needs a thorough investigation, it may be best to handle this through the formal complaints process and PALS will support you through this process.
Time limit: All formal complaints should be made within 12 months of the date of an incident or 12 months from the date of when you became aware of an issue that you wish to complain about. If you are thinking about making a complaint then we would encourage you to try to say something as soon as possible as this makes it easier for everyone to remember what happened so we can respond quickly.
Acknowledgement: Once we have received your formal complaint, we will contact you (by letter, e-mail or telephone) to confirm that we are looking into your concerns. An acknowledgement letter will be sent to you along with a Complaints leaflet and our contact details so that you can contact us directly if you have any concerns about the investigation. At this stage, we will ask you about consent if you are complaining on behalf of someone else and we may need to send you a consent form to have the patient sign and send back to us to prove that they are happy for us to share details of their care with you.
Investigation: Each complaint received is thoroughly investigated by the Senior Management Team at the Divisions and Care Groups throughout the Trust and the outcomes are reviewed by the Trust’s Executive Team. An investigation can sometimes involve speaking to a number of Medical, Nursing and Administration staff throughout the Trust and reviewing medical records and can sometimes take longer than expected, but we will do our best to respond as quickly as possible.
Meeting with staff: If you feel that a meeting would be helpful then please let us know so that we can set this up as quickly as possible. Although you don’t have to meet with staff, sometimes it can be helpful to discuss sensitive and complicated information face to face rather than try to convey this in a letter. The PALS Team will be happy to set up a meeting and attend this with you if you would like some support. PALS will help to ensure that your voice is heard and that all of your concerns are addressed by the staff attending the meeting. Although we sometimes have to restrict the number of people attending due to the size of our rooms, you can bring a relative, friend or an advocate if you would like their support.
Response: We aim to respond to all complaints within 30 working days, but we will contact you as quickly as possible if we think that the investigation may take longer. We take all complaints and concerns very seriously and we have an open and honest approach to responding. When an investigation has found evidence of a failure or error then we will acknowledge this and provide you with an explanation of how this happened and what we are going to do to try to prevent it from happening again.
What if I am still not happy? If you are not satisfied with the Trust’s response to your complaint then we would ask you to contact us again explaining what you feel was not addressed appropriately. We will try to work with you until we reach a satisfactory outcome, but at the end of our investigation, if you are still not satisfied then you can ask the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) to review your complaint.
The role of the PHSO: The PHSO considers complaints about poor treatment or services throughout the NHS in England. The service is independent, impartial and free. The PHSO does not have to investigate every complaint, but will usually do so if there is clear evidence of hardship or injustice. If you wish to raise a complaint with the Ombudsman please complete the form using the following link www.ombudsman.org.uk/make-a-complaint.