Social care complaints regulations

The complaints procedure for adult social care is set out in regulations, which cover both the local authority and NHS procedures.

The Local Authority Social Services and National Health Service Complaints (England) Regulations 2009

The Local Authority Social Services and National Health Service Complaints (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2009

The regulations provide a framework for those handling a complaint relating to a local authority’s social care functions - this includes directly provided services and independent services provided through commissioning. The actions, omissions or decisions of the local authority in respect of a social care function are covered; the regulations do not, however, apply more generally to independent providers. People who are paying for their own social care (self-funders) may complain to the local authority, for example about assessment, or failure to assess. Services people have arranged or purchased themselves are not covered but the local authority could be challenged if they commission those services. For example, on why they have commissioned a sub-standard service, or whether they are performance managing contracted services sufficiently.

Self-funders should raise concerns about their service with their care provider in the first instance. All providers are required as part of their registration requirements with the CQC to have a complaints procedure. If the complainant is not satisfied with the response they receive, they also may ask the Local Government Ombudsman to investigate. A new complaints scheme for people whose adult social care is not arranged or provided by local authorities came into effect on 1 October 2010. Full details of the scheme are on the Local Government Ombudsman website.

Professional bodies

Many professionals, including doctors, nurses and social workers, are required to register with a professional body. These bodies aim to protect the public by setting and maintaining standards within the professions, by publishing codes of conduct, registering individuals and monitoring continuous professional development. Serious misconduct by an individual can be reported to these bodies.