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By the end of our conversations I felt calm:” how advocacy supported Chas to speak up

16 March 2023

When Chas wanted to complain about his GP practice, he knew what he wanted to say, but not how to say it.

Chas* grew up in London and is very proud of his roots. He currently lives the other side of the river’ and admits to feeling regularly misunderstood and not really a part of the local community.

Chas lives with mental health issues and dyslexia which affect his everyday communication. He finds himself constantly having to apologise to others for his perceived aggressive’ conversation, and is frustrated that he is labelled as a troublemaker.

He reached out to VoiceAbility as he wanted to make a formal complaint about staff at his registered GP medical practice.

Support to write a complaint letter

Chas knew what he wanted to say but not how to say it. He said he could read ok, but felt that he was unable to write a complaint letter in words that professionals would understand, and which perfectly illustrated how he felt.

His advocate, Aggie, arranged a series of telephone appointments so that he could talk through what he wanted to say. She then posted the draft letters for him to read. 

Building confidence

By the end of the sessions, Chas grew with confidence and began to type out emails himself about what he wanted to say, as he knew that Aggie understood his language and needs. She used his own words as much as possible to include in the NHS Complaints Toolkit letter template.

Chas has now received his paper copies of the letter to sign and post.

He said he was very pleased with how he had been supported by Aggie:

Thank you very much for your patient and professional handling of my complaint. At the start of your support I was still in an exasperated state of mind.

I deviated at times and got hyper at times, but by the end of our conversations I felt calm and reassured and better for having spoken with you, so once again thank you.

Chas, who was supported by an advocate

*To protect their privacy we don’t use people’s real names, but their stories are genuine.

NHS complaints advocacy

If you want to complain about the care or treatment provided by any NHS service, you can get support. 

Advocates can provide free, independent support to help you at any stage of your complaint. They can explain your options, and help you identify what you would like to happen next. If VoiceAbility doesn’t provide NHS complaints advocacy in your area, someone else will.

You can also use Voiceability’s free resources to empower yourself to use the NHS complaints process.