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Empowering individuals: how NHS complaints advocacy helped Jennifer and her daughter

18 October 2022

Jennifer’s daughter Lilah had a growing tumour between her brain and her eye. Jennifer wanted to make a complaint about Lilah’s care and treatment. 

Jennifer* felt like she wasn’t being listened to by the specialists who were treating Lilah, and felt that no services were taking the responsibility to act. She also felt that they hadn’t received sufficient care and treatment in the past. 

Jennifer felt unable to progress through the NHS complaints process alone, due to the stress she was under as a carer. To get some independent support to make an NHS complaint, she contacted VoiceAbility. 

Advocate Katie called Jennifer and discussed their options. Katie contacted NHS England, and discussed the case with an NHS England Complaints Manager, who then got in contact with Jennifer.

Katie also sent Jennifer a copy of the VoiceAbility NHS Complaints toolkit, which outlines the process and is a really useful guide. It’s designed to empower people to understand their rights and advocate for themselves, to make sure their voice is heard. Through several phone calls and emails, Katie built up Jennifer’s confidence and empowered her to contact NHS England and other organisations independently.

As a result of advocacy support, Jennifer arranged appointments for Lilah, as well as putting assessments in place. Lilah also now has a named contact in place, so they know what they can expect going forward for her treatment. 

Jennifer told Katie that she felt so much more confident about making the NHS complaint by herself thanks to advocacy support. As well as getting help for her own daughter, she felt empowered to contact her MP to highlight the issues she had faced, in the hope that her MP would be able to make sure this didn’t happen to anybody else.

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

Advocacy support to make an NHS complaint

VoiceAbility’s advocates work in locations across the UK to help people like Jennifer to complain. 

If you’ve been affected by the actions or decisions of an organisation which provides or commissions a service paid for by the NHS, you can make a complaint. That includes doctors, dentists, hospitals, NHS-funded care homes and more.

Your complaint can help to put things right quickly, and the NHS can learn from your experience. They might respond with an explanation, an apology, and information about how they have used your experience to improve services or care.