Making a complaint

I want to complain about a speech therapist

Speech and language therapists always aim to provide the best service possible to their clients, however you may feel you have cause to complain about the service that you have received.

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. You can find guidance in our frequently asked questions.

I want to complain about an RCSLT member

The RCSLT does not regulate speech and language therapists, and is therefore unable to assist you with respect to any complaint brought against an individual speech and language therapist.

For more information on support and guidance available, please refer to our frequently asked questions in this section.

I want to make a complaint about the RCSLT

We hope you never have to complain, but occasionally things do go wrong, and when they do, the RCSLT will make every effort to ensure that we deal with the issue promptly and efficiently.

Complaints can also be made about the actions or decisions of someone acting on behalf of the RCSLT that affect you as a member, for example, a solicitor or other contractor.

The Member Complaints Policy sets out the key principles to which the RCSLT will adhere in dealing with members’ issues.

Raising concerns about racism

If racism or bullying in your workplace or place of education and training is affecting you or your service users, the RCSLT is here to help you. All employers and universities have a responsibility to listen and respond. Take these steps to raise your concerns:

  1. Refer to your local HR or university policies and procedures. They will outline what you should do.
  2. If your concern is about patient care, refer to local service policies.
  3. Refer to the RCSLT’s guidance on best practice and meeting the standards set by the HCPC.
  4. Refer to the HCPC standards.
  5. Raise your concern with the appropriate person – eg a dedicated officer dealing with racism and discrimination, or your line manager.
  6. If you think your concerns are not being taken seriously or investigated appropriately, involve your local freedom to speak up guardian or the union.
  7. If your concerns are about an HCPC registrant, you can contact the HCPC directly to raise concerns.
  8. If you are a student and your concern is about a placement, raise your concerns immediately so that you can be supported. Do not wait until after the placement has ended, even if you don’t want any action to be taken during your placement. If your concern is about a member of HEI staff, raise your concerns immediately.
  9. If you are a student, you can raise concerns (relating to placement or your HEI) through your placement provider, academic adviser, personal tutor, programme lead, student support administrator or student services. If you need support when attending meetings, HEIs should have equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) staff available. If you are unsure of what to do, you can go to the student union for advice.
  10. The RCSLT has always had a dedicated enquiries line. Members (and students who are not members) can call us to raise concerns or seek advice if the approaches above haven’t worked. Email info@rcslt.org or phone 020 7378 3012 for help.

Frequently asked questions

If racism or bullying in your workplace or place of education and training is affecting you or your service users, the RCSLT is here to help you. All employers and universities have a responsibility to listen and respond. Take these steps to raise your concerns:

  1. Refer to your local HR or university policies and procedures. They will outline what you should do.
  2. If your concern is about patient care, refer to local service policies.
  3. Refer to the RCSLT’s guidance on best practice and meeting the standards set by the HCPC.
  4. Refer to the HCPC standards.
  5. Raise your concern with the appropriate person – eg a dedicated officer dealing with racism and discrimination, or your line manager.
  6. If you think your concerns are not being taken seriously or investigated appropriately, involve your local freedom to speak up guardian or the union.
  7. If your concerns are about an HCPC registrant, you can contact the HCPC directly to raise concerns.
  8. If you are a student and your concern is about a placement, raise your concerns immediately so that you can be supported. Do not wait until after the placement has ended, even if you don’t want any action to be taken during your placement. If your concern is about a member of HEI staff, raise your concerns immediately.
  9. If you are a student, you can raise concerns (relating to placement or your HEI) through your placement provider, academic adviser, personal tutor, programme lead, student support administrator or student services. If you need support when attending meetings, HEIs should have equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) staff available. If you are unsure of what to do, you can go to the student union for advice.
  10. The RCSLT has always had a dedicated enquiries line. Members (and students who are not members) can call us to raise concerns or seek advice if the approaches above haven’t worked. Email info@rcslt.org or phone 020 7378 3012 for help.

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:

Complaints about NHS treatment

  • 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.

Complaints about 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.

Complaints about 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.

Complaints 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.

In addition:

Independent therapists

  • 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 and Care 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 and Care Professions Council (HCPC), 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.

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