Making a complaint


The Students’ Health Service aims to provide high standards of clinical care within a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Comments and complaints can be useful in helping to do this as well as in allowing grievances to be expressed in a constructive and effective way.This procedure provides a way in which complaints can be dealt with positively and appropriately.

Objectives of the complaints procedure

  • To provide an easy way to register a comment or complaint about the practice, the behaviour of a member of the practice team, or if it is felt that there has not been an acceptable standard of clinical care
  • To provide an explanation of what happened, why an incident arose and how it may be avoided in the future, together with an apology if appropriate.
  • To protect patients and staff from distressing confrontational situations.
  • To use the information gained to improve the working of the practice and help with the long term planning of the service.

How to complain and what happens next

A suggestion box is provided in the waiting room for any comments, suggestions or complaints that you may wish to make. We welcome both signed and anonymous contributions. However, if you would like a reply then we will need your name and address. You can also email us on

We hope that most problems can be sorted out easily and quickly, as soon as possible after they arise and with the person concerned. However, if the member of staff who received your complaint feels unable to investigate it adequately or to provide you with the assurance you are looking for, he or she will refer the matter to the Practice Manager.

The Practice Manager will record your complaint and ensure that the complaint is acknowledged within 3 working days of its receipt. She will also seek to agree with you the following:

  • the manner in which the complaint will be handled.
  • the way in which we will communicate with you. 
  • the date by which you will receive our response to the issue(s) you have raised.
  • your expectations from the complaints process, if this is not clear.
  • a nominated point of contact within the practice whilst our investigation is process. 

Where you have made a formal verbal complaint, we will give you a copy of your verbal statement and ask you to confirm that it represents the issues that you wish to raise.

If the complaint is about an administrative or organisational matter, the Practice Manager will normally be responsible for investigating the complaint. If the complaint relates to a member of the nursing team, the complaint will be referred to the Nursing Manager. All other clinical complaints will be referred to the Deputy Head of Service or another doctor who is unconnected with the case, to investigate. The Head of Service will be kept informed of all complaints received by the practice.

If a friend or relative wishes to complain on your behalf, you must provide consent for the practice to discuss the matter with them. If we are unable to obtain this consent within 40 working days of their complaint being received, the complaint will be closed and recorded as a concern. In certain circumstances we can investigate complaints from the personal representatives of a patient where it is not possible to obtain informed consent directly from the patient. 

Having obtained the details of the complaint, the investigating doctor or manager will interview all relevant members of the practice team in order to establish the facts of the situation.

When and how will you hear from us after making a complaint?

We will seek to provide you with a full and positive response to your complaint which will include details of how your complaint has been considered, an explanation based on facts and an apology if appropriate. We shall also seek to identify what we have learned from your complaint and what actions we can take, or have already taken, in order to prevent this problem occurring again. We will also include information on what to do if you wish to take the complaints process further.

If for any reason we are unable to provide a response within the time period previously agreed, for example if a key member of staff is absent through sickness, we will advise you of the reason for the delay. We will also agree with you a revised deadline for provision of our response, and keep you updated of our progress against this. Updates will be provided at an interval of at least every 10 working days.

Sometimes it may be helpful to arrange a meeting between you and the member(s) of staff concerned, if you would like this. In this case, the investigating doctor or manager may be present in the role of mediator, and you will also be invited to bring a friend, relative or other representative to the meeting.

If at any time during the complaint process you or your representative decides that you wish to withdraw your complaint, this request can be made verbally or in writing. We will acknowledge this request in writing.


The specific details of your complaint will be kept confidential to you, and the practice manager, the investigating doctor or nursing manager (as appropriate) and the member(s) of the practice team that it involves. No record of complaint will be kept in your medical records. Under no circumstances will your complaint prejudice the standard of service or care provided to you by any of the practice team. 


We feel that it is helpful to everyone if complaints are investigated as soon as possible after the event. We would therefore encourage anyone wishing to make a complaint to do so within a few days or weeks after the event that caused the problem. We will investigate any complaint that it is presented to us within 12 months of the event in question or within 12 months that it came to the notice of the complainant. However please be aware that after a period of time, it is possible that any staff involved may have limited or no recollection of a particular event, in which case the investigation will become reliant on the documentary evidence available to us.

The NHS requires us to regularly review and report on the complaints that we receive. We do this as part of our Significant Event Meetings, which are held regularly throughout the year. Any member of the practice team who wishes to attend may do so. Complaints are presented to the meeting in a generalised format with a view to identifying learning points for the practice team and any further actions which could be taken to improve patient care. Records of complaints are retained for 10 years.

We hope that if you have a problem you will use our practice complaints procedure. We believe that this will give us the best chance of putting right whatever has gone wrong and provide us with an opportunity to improve the service we provide. However, if you are dissatisfied with the response to your complaint, you have the right to ask the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman to review your case. You can submit a complaint via their website or contact them via their Helpline on 0345 015 4033.

Other support for anyone making a complaint

NHS England Customer Contact Centre is available for patients to use if they have any complaint query or concern about GP services:
Telephone: 0300 311 22 33
General Post (including complaints): NHS England, PO Box 16738, Redditch, B97 9PT

The Advocacy People for support and advice. This is an independent charity which offers a free and confidential service.
Telephone: 0330 440 9000

Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG (Customer Service Team)
South Plaza, Marlborough Street, Bristol BS1 3NX
Freephone: 0800 0730907
Telephone: 0117 900 2655

The Care Forum
Telephone: 0117 965 4444
Post: The Care Forum, The Vassall Centre, Gill Avenue, Fishponds, Bristol BS16 2QQ
Website: (with online ‘Contact Us’ form)


The Student Health Service has a positive attitude to comments and complaints and welcomes any feedback that may help us to improve the service we provide.










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