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Making a complaint

Who can complain?

Service users or visitors can complain about any matter connected with the provision of Belfast Trust services. You can also complain on someone else’s behalf, although you will generally need their consent unless the service user is a child under the age of 18, or lack the capacity to provide consent. If consent is not obtained this may delay any response being sent to you.

We encourage you to raise any concerns as soon as possible. It is always better to resolve any problems with staff involved at that time. If you are unable to raise your concern at the time or you are unhappy with the action taken, you should normally complain within 6 months of the event or 6 months of you becoming aware that you have a cause for complaint, and normally no longer than 12 months after the event.

When making a complaint

You should try to provide us with the following details:

  • If you are not the service user, please give your name and relationship to the service user
  • Service user’s name, date of birth and Health & Care Number
  • Your contact details (and contact details of the service user if you are complaining on their behalf)
  • Who or what you are complaining about
  • Where and when the event that caused your complaint happened; and
  • Where possible, what action you would like us to take
Who else can help?

Throughout the complaint investigations you have a right to seek the help of the Patient Client Council.

The Council is an independent body, set up to represent your interests in Health & Social Care. They can provide free and confidential advice, information and help throughout the complaints process, including help with writing letters, making phone calls or supporting you at meetings.

You can get more information about the Patient and Client Council at:
Freephone: 0800 917 0222

You’ve made a complaint. What happens next?

Your complaint will be acknowledged within 2 working days of being received by the Complaints Department, and it will be investigated thoroughly and confidentially.

We aim to provide a response to your complaint within 20 working days. However, some complaints may take longer to investigate than others. We will tell you if it becomes clear that we cannot respond within the timescales and we will explain why.

A meeting may be arranged to discuss your complaint. You may be accompanied by a relative, friend or someone from the Patient Client Council.

What if you are not happy with our response?

We are committed to doing our best to resolve any complaint you may have. If you are not happy with the Belfast Trust’s response to your complaint, you can contact us again within 3 months of your response letter. We will discuss the options available which may help in resolving any outstanding issues, and can explain how you can take your complaint to the next stage, i.e. the Ombudsman.

If you remain unhappy at the end of our complaints process, you can then refer your complaint to the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman. The Ombudsman will consider your complaint to determine whether it needs investigation. Although you have the right to approach the Ombudsman at any time, she will not usually take on a case which has not first been through our Complaints Procedure.

Complainants must bring their complaint to the Ombudsman within 6 months of completion of the Belfast Trust’s internal complaints process; however the Ombudsman may investigate a complaint outside the time limit if there are special circumstances that would make it proper to do so.

Further information on the services provided by the Ombudsman is available by contacting:

The Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman
Progressive House
33 Wellington Place
Freepost: Freepost NIPSO

Freephone: 0800 343 424
Telephone: 028 902 338 21
Textphone: 028 908 977 89