April 2013 sees the launch of SEAP’s new local Independent NHS Complaints Advocacy Service, a free, independent advocacy service that helps individuals to make a complaint about any aspect of their NHS care or treatment.   This includes treatment in a private hospital or care home that is funded by the NHS.

SEAP has been delivering the former ICAS service for more than nine years in the county and is delighted to continue supporting the people of Oxfordshire who have a concern and complaint about their NHS service or how they were cared for by the NHS.

Marie Casey, chief executive officer of SEAP, said: ‘The National Health Service (NHS) works hard to treat everyone properly and promptly. Most people using the NHS are happy with their treatment, but sometimes things can go wrong.  Complaining doesn’t come easily to most people but complaints are a good way for the NHS to identify any concerns around patient care and treatment.  We know that the Mid Staffordshire Report highlighted the importance of learning from complaints to put things right.’

‘Often complaints are about finding out why things have gone wrong and wanting mistakes to be acknowledged.  Most importantly, complainants want their experiences to be a catalyst for positive change and improvements in the NHS so others can benefit,’ said Marie.

 SEAP has a dedicated telephone number for Oxfordshire residents (0300 343 5718) and people can also go to the website:  http://www.seap.org.uk/services/nhs-complaints-advocacy/. Organisations providing NHS services such as hospitals and GP practices will have leaflets available too.

 Anyone who wants to complain about an NHS service can contact SEAP for help. It is there to help anyone whether they have concerns about their own NHS healthcare or are acting on behalf of a relative who is unable to complain themselves.

 The NHS Complaints Advocacy service will work closely with local Healthwatch, NHS trusts and Oxfordshire County Council and any general statistics or trends that come through the complaints service will be discussed and, where necessary, acted on.

 Along with the new phone number – 0300 343 5718 – and email address oxfordshire@seap.org.uk, other changes to the service include volunteers being invited to work with the service’s advocacy team. Anyone interested in supporting the service as a volunteer should contact local team manager Catharine Hurford on the above number.

As well as the NHS complaints advocacy service, SEAP provides the Independent Mental Health Advocacy service in Oxfordshire offering confidential information and support on people’s rights and treatments when detained under the Mental Health Act, community mental health advocacy including in the county’s prisons and an innovative pilot project working with the county’s military and veteran communities.

‘SEAP will continue to build on its reputation as a provider of quality advocacy services and demonstrate that we deliver good outcomes, are valued by our clients and our commissioners and that we play a key role in our communities as they work to improve local health services.  All staff share my enthusiasm for the future,’   Marie added.

The new service was co-designed and collaboratively commissioned by eleven local authority areas across south east England.  The existing ICAS service commissioned by the Department of Health came to an end on 31 March. All open cases passed from the old ICAS to the new Independent NHS Complaints Advocacy service on 1 April 2013. The initial contract has been let for a period of one year with an option to extend for a further year.

For more information about SEAP advocacy and the NHS complaints procedure go to www.seap.org.uk or phone us on 0300 343 5718.