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Patient Advice and Liaison Service 

ICAS - Independent Complaints Advocacy Service

A Community Health Council Project to develop a free, confidential and independent NHS complaints advocacy service

What is ICAS?

We are an independent body whose role is to advise and help people who have a complaint about local health services.

We can help you express concerns about services provided in hospitals and health centres, by a family doctor, a dentist, a pharmacist, an optician or about ambulance services.

We emphasise our service is independent, free and confidential. You can talk to us and then decide whether you wish to take the matter further.

We will not judge your complaint but can assist you in making that complaint in the most effective way.

How we can help?

For most people the National Health Service provides a high standard of care, but sometimes things don’t go as expected.

Everyone has a right to express concerns if they feel something has gone wrong. For this reason, every doctor’s surgery, all hospitals and health centres where people such as district nurses and chiropodists work, have a complaints procedure. This should be easy to understand and explain how you can complain.

Although we cannot investigate your complaint, there are several practical ways we are able to assist you.

We can:

·         Explain how the NHS Complaints Procedure works

·         Discuss your complaint with you, and advise of the options available

·         Follow up concerns on your behalf

·         Help you prepare letters, or write letters for you

·         Go through replies to your letters with you, advising on what else can be done

·         Arrange meetings to talk through worries with the people concerned

Please ask for our free information sheets explaining the complaint procedure and how ICAS can assist you.

Telling People how you feel

Talking to someone about how you feel – the good as well as the not so good – helps to improve health services locally, by drawing attention to your personal experience.

If you do experience a problem, it is helpful to let someone know straight away. Before you speak to someone:

·         Take a few minutes to think about what you want to say – sometimes it helps to write down a few notes

·         If it is private, ask if you can go to a separate room to discuss it quietly

If you are not happy with the explanation, you can put your concerns more formally in writing. Ask for a copy of the complaints information leaflet so that you know who to write to.

Often problems can be sorted out easily, but if you are unsure, and would like assistance, we can help you.

Who to contact

Talking about your concerns with someone who is independent, can help you to decide how you would like to take things forward.

If you would like assistance, please contact our Complaints Officer:

West Suffolk Community Health Council

Collingwood House

20 Whiting Street

Bury St Edmunds

Suffolk IP33 1NS


Telephone: 01284 761390

Fax: 01284 725838

We do not give medical or legal advice, provide counselling or specialist advocacy services such as mental health or learning disabilities. However, we can help you access this advice or service.

Community Health Council, October 2002.


Note: you can find out more on the DOH website


What is PALS?
Patient & Public Involvement
Patient Information Leaflets
Your Guide to the NHS
How can I find more information?
Comments, Complaints & Concerns
Formal Complaints
ICAS - Independent Complaints Advocacy Service
Support Groups
West Suffolk Cancer Support Groups
Why information is collected about you
Accessing your health records
Confidential Information
Information about your discharge
NHS Funded Continuing Health Care
PPI Strategy & Framework
How the service is being used
Case Studies

Contact us by or telephone: 01284 712555

West Suffolk Hospitals NHS Trust

Last Modified: January 2003