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 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.
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.
- The Health and Care Professions Council registers 16 different professions including social workers in England, speech and language therapists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, chiropodists and dieticians.
- The General Medical Council - registers all doctors.
- The Nursing and Midwifery Council - registers nurses and midwives.
- The General Dental Council - registers dentists, dental nurses, dental technicians and orthodontic therapists.
- The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain - registers pharmacists and their premises.
- The Committee on Standards in Public Life monitors the standards of people working in public office, including councils.