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Sometimes, our experiences when using healthcare are so bad that it makes sense to complain about them. This can help you get changes to your care, and to help you feel better about what happened.
Making a complaint might not just improve your own future experiences, but it can also let the NHS know about a pattern and that lots of people are having the same problem. This can make the chances that something will change much higher, and improve things for everyone.
We know it can feel nerve wracking to complain, so we’ve got some tips and info below.
In order to make your complaint, there are some key things to know before you get started:
An effective complaint:
To help you decide whether to make a complaint, it can be good to know what health care should be like.
All doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are expected to behave according to professional guidelines set out by their professional body. The General Medical Council has a leaflet called: What to expect from your doctor: a guide for patients – where you can find out what kind of care you should expect.
Particular relevant information is that doctors should:
If your experience doesn’t match up with this, then you might have a reason to complain.
You can find out by reading the NHS Scotland Gender Reassignment Protocol.
It outlines the treatment pathway that all agencies involved in your transition care (GP, Gender Identity Clinic, surgical teams etc.) need to adhere to and states what gender reassignment treatments are available on the NHS. It allows you flexibility (such as hormones without surgeries, surgeries without hormones) and is non-binary inclusive.
If your experience doesn’t match up with the protocol, you could complain.
Ultimately, this is up to you. A few examples of important situations where you could complain are:
Making a complaint doesn’t have to be about criticising the staff at a service (although it may need to be sometimes). In the last two above examples, you could:
It is understandable that you might be concerned about how a complaint could affect your relationship with the service provider. That is one reason that a complaint should never be abusive. It is also important to understand that if you never tell your healthcare professional that something is wrong, they will assume that all is well and continue to treat you and others in the same way. A strong complaint that clearly states what you want changed can be an important tool for positive change.
For more useful information about what you should expect from your healthcare, and how to make a complaint, check out some of these websites and resources:
NHS Inform: Feedback, Complaints and Your Rights
Have your say! Your right to be heard: a guide for young people
Patient rights and responsibilities charter: easy read version
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Scottish Trans is part of the Equality Network
Scottish Trans is the Equality Network project to improve gender identity and gender reassignment equality, rights and inclusion in Scotland. The Equality Network is a leading Scottish lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality and human rights charity.
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