Patient advice and liaison service / complaints

Patient advice and liaison service / complaints

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1 July 2022

Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (or PALS) is a free, informal, confidential help and advice service for patients, carers and their families. It is there to help when you need advice or have concerns about health-related matters, or simply don’t know where to turn.

PALS can help with questions about the ICB itself or about any of the health services commissioned in local hospitals or your community.

PALS will:

  • help you get the information you need about the NHS
  • listen and respond to your concerns, suggestions, queries or compliments
  • sort out problems quickly on your behalf in an informal and friendly manner
  • use your feedback to help improve services
  • tell you how to get more involved in your own healthcare
  • help you to make a formal complaint
  • signpost you to other agencies or organisations who can assist you.

Please contact us via one of the methods below and we will be happy to help.

Freephone: 0808 196 8861


PALS is open from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

Any information will be treated in confidence. We may need to collect personal information from you to help provide the best possible service, but we will not share your details with anyone without your consent.


We are committed to ensuring that we deliver high quality, safe, effective, patient-focused care through the services we provide. We want to hear about your experience of using local health services.

If you have not received a good service, we need to know about it. If you are unhappy with your NHS care or treatment, or how you were dealt with, you have the right to make a complaint.

Our staff work hard to get things right, but sometimes things don’t go as well as we would like them to. If you are unhappy with our services, or the care you have received, please let us know so that we can try to put things right. Your feedback will help us to learn and improve services to help prevent any future issues.

We would also love to hear from you if things went well, so please let us know if you have any feedback or compliments relating to our services.

  • Who can make a complaint?

    If you are unhappy with NHS services or treatment that you have received, or if you have been affected by the actions or decisions of an NHS organisation then you can raise a complaint. If you are unable to complain yourself, someone can act on your behalf, with your written consent.

    Businesses or other care providers CANNOT make a complaint under the NHS complaints procedure.

  • Who should I complain to?

    The NHS complaints procedure gives people a choice of whether to complain to the provider of the services, or the commissioner of the service. If you complain to us about a service that we have commissioned, we will manage the complaint but will need to ask the provider to investigate.

    If your complaint involves more than one organisation you should only need to make one complaint. You will be asked to provide consent to share your concerns with all organisations involved and will usually receive a single, coordinated response.

    From 1st July 2023 complaints for Primary Care Services (GPs, Pharmacies, Ophthalmic Services & Dentists) should be made either direct to the provider or to your local Integrated Care Board (ICB).  For Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent ICB please direct your complaint to the Patient Services Team using the contact details provided in the section “How do I make a complaint?”.

  • How do I make a complaint?

    Complaints, compliments and enquiries are handled by our patient services team. You can contact us via any of the methods below and we will be happy to help.

    Freephone: 0808 196 8861


    Post: New Beacon Building, Stafford Education and Enterprise Park, Weston Road, Stafford, ST18 OBF

    Any information you provide will be treated in strict confidence. We may need to collect personal information from you so that we can provide the best possible service. Please be assured that your personal details will not be shared with anyone else without your consent.

    For further information, please read our complaints policy.

  • When should I make a complaint?

    You should raise your complaint as soon as possible, but in any case, within 12 months of you becoming aware that a problem has occurred.

    We appreciate this is not always possible and where this period has passed, we would still like you to speak with us. In special circumstances, complaints can still be accepted after this period of time has passed. Please speak to us if you are considering raising a complaint that is more than 12 months old.

  • How will you deal with my complaint?

    We will contact you within three working days of receiving your complaint and will then agree with you how we will look into your complaint and what you can expect. The complaints team will always consider whether there is a way to resolve your complaint quickly and informally. If not, they will explain how the complaints process works and will request a thorough investigation.

    We will also provide a timescale by which you should receive your response. Once the investigation has been completed you will receive a full written response from our Chief Executive Officer.

  • Will I be treated fairly?

    We understand that some people worry that their treatment might be adversely affected because they have raised a complaint. Please do not worry about this. We also appreciate that those using our services have different needs and we want to make sure you do not face any barriers when raising a complaint. Staff will be happy to discuss this with you to ensure you are not disadvantaged in any way.

  • What help is available when making a complaint? Who can I contact for support?

    If you would like help and support making your complaint, including help writing your letter, you can contact advocacy support. This support can help by providing free, confidential and independent support and information about the NHS complaints procedure.

    There are local advocacy providers who can guide and support you through the NHS complaints process.

    They are free and independent of the NHS. They can help you put your complaint in writing and attend meetings with you, but they do not investigate complaints.

    If you live within the city of Stoke-on-Trent, you can access Asist advocacy support by contacting:

    Asist Advocacy

    Telephone: 01782 845 584 or text 60777 and start your message with Asist



    Post: ASIST, Winton House, Stoke Road, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 2RW

    For residents of Staffordshire (excluding the city of Stoke-on-Trent) you should contact:

    Asist Advocacy

    Telephone: 01785 246 709



    Post: ASIST, Tollgate Court Business Centre, Stafford, ST16 3HS

  • What if I am unhappy with the way the NHS has handled my complaint?

    You can ask the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman to consider your complaint further. The role of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman is to make final decisions on complaints that have not been resolved by the NHS, operating fairly and without taking sides. This service is free.

    Telephone: 0345 015 4033