RCSLT information for clients
While speech and language therapists will always aim to provide the best service possible to their clients, you may feel you have cause to complain about the service that you have received. However, the RCSLT cannot comment on individual cases or provide specific advice to members of the public who are dissatisfied with speech and language therapy services they have received. This note signposts other sources of support and guidance.
Frequently asked questions
I am not happy with treatment I have received. How can I make a complaint about a service?
If you are not happy with the treatment that you have received, the following general points should help you to identify where you can access information and support.
How do I make a complaint to my local service?
Nearly all health, education and social services bodies (eg. PCTs, hospitals, local authorities, schools, voluntary organisations) have local complaints policies and procedures which explain what to do if you want to make a complaint. Should you wish to pursue a complaint, your first step should be to submit a complaint in accordance with these procedures. Most complaints can be successfully resolved at a local level. The best way to find out how to do so is to ask, but the following points may be of assistance:
- All NHS bodies have established in-house complaints procedures which should be followed as a first step towards resolving your complaint. The hospital or health service may offer to bring in conciliation services to help resolve the complaint.
- If your complaint is still not resolved to your satisfaction, you can complain to the Health Service Ombudsman (Tel: 0345 015 4033).
- In certain cases, patients may wish to pursue legal action. The charity, Action for Victims (Tel: 020 8686 8333) can put you in touch with a solicitor with medical negligence expertise.
- Further details about complaints procedures can be found on the following web pages:
NHS Choices information service:
Health of Wales Information Service:
Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland:
NHS Patient Advice and Liaison Services:
Services provided by other public sector organisations:
- Some services may be provided by other public sector providers, for example local authorities and/or schools. In such cases, you should ask for the local complaints procedure and follow it carefully if you want to make a complaint.
- If you are not happy with the outcome of the complaint, ask for information about the appeals process.
- There may be local services that can offer advice.
Private treatment and services provided by voluntary organisations (charities):
- All voluntary organisations, private hospitals and clinics are likely to have their own complaints procedure. You should ask for a copy of their complaints procedure and follow it carefully if you want to make a complaint.
- If your complaint is not resolved to your satisfaction by the independent healthcare provider itself, you can complain to the Care Quality Commission (Tel: 03000 616 161).
- Private hospitals that belong to the Independent Healthcare Association (IHA) (Tel: 020 7793 4620) should follow its code of practice. The IHA can offer patients advice on the complaints process.
How can I make a complaint about an individual speech and language therapist?
If your complaint relates to an individual speech and language therapist, who works for an NHS body, another public sector or an independent healthcare provider, you can complain to that organisation in the same way as described above.
You can also complain to the Health Service Ombudsman if you are unhappy with the outcome of a local NHS complaints procedure or to the Care Quality Commission with respect to a complaint made to an independent healthcare provider.
- If the therapist is a member of the Association of Speech and Language Therapists in Independent Practice (ASLTIP), you can raise a concern with this organisation.
- An initial concern against an ASLTIP member can often be resolved by prompt, thorough, local and informal conciliation before it is logged as a formal complaint. Members of the ASLTIP Executive are willing to act as intermediaries (as would an NHS manager in the public sector) to help resolve concerns. As a first step, a complainant approaching ASLTIP with an initial concern will be offered this conciliation facility.
- If conciliation fails, or if either party is unwilling to attempt conciliation, then the complainant will be advised to submit a formal complaint to the secretary of ASLTIP in writing. Complaints should normally be made within six months of the incident or the time it was discovered.
Health Professions Council
- If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the local complaints procedures or the ASLTIP conciliation complaints/processes, then you may wish to refer your complaint to the Health Professions Council (HPC), which is the regulatory body for speech and language therapists.
- Please note that the RCSLT does not regulate speech and language therapists and is unable to assist you with respect to any complaint brought against an individual speech and language therapist.
This information does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific advice on the particular circumstances of a case.