Frequently Asked Questions

Who can give feedback?
NHS Lothian welcomes and values all feedback, and anyone can provide it. Feedback includes compliments, enquiries, comments, concerns and complaints.
Can I provide feedback on another person’s behalf?
Yes you can, but NHS Lothian needs written permission from that person if your feedback requires us to share information of a private nature, such as details of their treatment. As such, we would ask them to sign a consent form before responding to your feedback (this does not apply to children under 13 years old).
If someone lacks capacity to give consent then we need permission from the appropriate person (e.g. parent, Power of Attorney) to share their information. Our duty of confidentiality continues after a person has died and, in such cases, we would request consent from the deceased’s Next of Kin before sharing personal information. 
In cases where consent is required, NHS Lothian will provide you with the form and ask that it is signed and returned within 20 days.
When should I give feedback?
NHS Lothian recommends you give feedback as soon as possible after an event happening but this can be hard, especially if you have been through a difficult or upsetting time. With regards to complaints, we do have a time limit and ask that you contact us within 12 months of you having reason to complain.
What can I provide feedback about?
Your feedback can take various forms: 
  • Compliments: if you are happy with a recent experience you have had within NHS Lothian we would like to hear about it. A compliment may be an expression of admiration, thanks or congratulations to a staff member or team.
  • Enquiries: we are happy to respond to any questions you may have about us as an organisation, our services and our treatments.
  • Comments: please share with us any comments or suggestions about NHS Lothian, such as the care we provide, our procedures and our services.
  • Concerns: if you are worried about something or want to pass on remarks, opinions or observations please contact us. Concerns may be expressed about any aspect of NHS Lothian, such as treatment, communication and appointments.
  • Complaints: we do not always get things right but are determined to learn from your feedback. It is therefore vital that you tell us if you are dissatisfied with the care, treatment or service you have received. For more information about complaints, including what you can complain about, please read our feedback and complaints booklet, or keep reading
What to include in your feedback
The more information you provide, the easier it is for us to understand your feedback and manage it in a thorough and timely manner. It is particularly helpful that we have sufficient information when investigating complaints. Below is a checklist of useful information to include in your feedback, but please do not worry if you are unable to provide it all:
  • The patient’s name, address, telephone number and date of birth
  • If you are providing feedback on the patient’s behalf, your name, address, telephone number and relationship to the patient
  • A description of the event, including the date and ward/hospital it occurred and if any particular staff were involved
  • What you hope to happen from the feedback
  • If a complaint or concern, details of how we could resolve it.

We offer an easy online feedback form which can be sent directly to NHS Lothian when completed or, alternatively, a feedback template which can be filled-in and given to the service area or Patient Experience Team.

Our feedback process
We acknowledge all feedback within 3 working days of receiving it, either verbally or in writing, and share it with the relevant individuals or teams for information or action. Concerns and complaints require investigation from the service area and we aim to provide a written response within 20 days, but if this is not possible, we will send a letter informing you of the delay.
What feedback is NHS Lothian not responsible for?
NHS Lothian is keen to hear about all aspects of your care and treatment across our local area. However, there are some areas NHS Lothian is not responsible for and feedback regarding these areas is not, therefore, managed by NHS Lothian. Below are the areas that NHS Lothian does not manage:
  • Feedback about the majority of general practice (GP) services
  • Feedback surrounding dental surgeries, opticians or pharmacies 
  • NHS 24 Feedback
  • Scottish Ambulance Service Feedback
  • Private health care or treatment
  • Services not provided or funded by the NHS
  • Something which you are taking legal action about.
Guidance on how to provide feedback about these areas is as follows:
General Practitioner and General Practice Surgeries
If your feedback is regarding your GP or their practice, you should give it directly to the surgery’s Practice Manager to deal with. You can often find contact details for your surgery online, or alternatively, you can contact them directly to enquire about the ways in which you can provide them with your feedback. However, if you feel uncomfortable contacting the surgery directly, the Patient Experience Team can act as an impartial mediator in these situations by submitting your feedback for you. The Patient Experience Team will require your consent to do this, should you wish.
Feedback regarding Dental Surgeries, Opticians or Pharmacies
If your complaint is about a dental surgery, optician or pharmacy, please contact them directly to provide your feedback.
NHS 24
NHS Lothian is not responsible for NHS 24. In order to provide feedback about NHS 24, you should contact them directly:
The Patient Affairs Manager
NHS 24
Caledonia House
Cardonald Park
G51 4ED
T: 0141 337 4501
Scottish Ambulance Service
The Scottish Ambulance Service also deals with its own feedback. The contact details are as follows:
Corporate Affairs and Engagement Department
Scottish Ambulance Service
National Headquarters
Gyle Square
1 South Gyle Crescent
EH12 9EB
T: 0131 314 0000
Private Health Care
If you would like to provide feedback about the treatment and/or service you received in a private hospital, you should take this up with the hospital first. You can go on to report this to a regulatory body if you are unhappy with the way the feedback has been handled or with the response received.
Who can support me to give feedback?
There are a number of different organisations and agencies available to help you give feedback. A list of these can be found in the support to give feedback section of our site.
Will I be treated differently if I make a complaint or raise a concern?
No, not at all. NHS Lothian values your feedback as it helps us understand what we are doing well and what we need to do better. Your care and treatment will not be affected in any way. However, if you are concerned please speak to a member of the Patient Experience Team.

What happens if I am unhappy with the response to my complaint?
If NHS Lothian has fully investigated your complaint and you are unhappy with the response you have received, you have a couple of options to consider.
You can ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) to consider your feedback. The SPSO’s contact details are as follows:
Freepost SPSO
The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
4 Melville Street
Freephone: 0800 377 7330
Alternatively, you can get in touch with the Patient Experience Team at NHS Lothian if you are unhappy with our response – we will always try to resolve things for you and may reopen your case for further investigation. However, if the service area feels it has responded fully then your case will remain closed.
What if I want to take legal action against NHS Lothian?
The NHS Lothian complaints procedure does not usually provide financial compensation. If this is something you would like to pursue you should contact a solicitor for advice – the Patient Advice and Support Service (PASS) will be able to give you information about specialist solicitors. You can find contact details for your local bureau on the Citizens Advice Scotland's website. If you do go ahead with legal proceedings then all correspondence should be sent through your solicitor to the central legal office.
How can I access my medical records?
Personal Records
The Data Protection Act 1998 gives people the right to know what personal information an organisation has about them. To use this right, you can make what is known as a ‘subject access request’. Please click on the link below to access further information regarding this issue as well as a blank form for completion:
Records of a deceased person
The Access to Health Records Act 1990 gives certain people a right to see the health records of somebody who has died. These people are defined under section 3(1)(f) of that act as ‘the patient’s personal representative and any person who may have a claim arising out of the patient’s death’. A personal representative is the executor or administrator of the dead person’s estate. You can access further information about this and also a blank form for completion by clicking the icon below:
AHRA (1990) Access Form
For further information and advice about completing these forms, please contact:
Darren Poole
Health Records Manager
Legal Services
Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh
51 Little France Crescent
EH16 4SA
T: 0131 242 3042

Last Reviewed: 31/01/2017