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Because the NHS is such a massive organisation, it can be difficult to find the help you need, just when you need it. The Patients Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) is a service that you can use to help you through the maze.
PALS seeks to help and support patients, relatives and carers by answering their questions and putting them in touch with the right organisation or NHS department that can help. It has also been set up to resolve people’s issues with the standard of service or care they have received from the NHS. Currently, PALS is only available in England.
What can PALS do for you?
Local PALS departments are designed to provide you with information about all NHS services and health-related issues. For example, if you cannot find the right help to deal with your medical condition, the staff will find out what services and support are available and contact them for you.
If appropriate, they will also put you in touch with local support groups, charities and other agencies. If, instead, you have been concerned by the level and quality of care you have received from the NHS, PALS will help to resolve the issue. For example, they look into concerns such as:
- not being offered the full range of treatment options or not having them explained well enough
- disrespectful or rude members of staff
- problems with travelling for treatment.
However, if the problem cannot be resolved by the PALS team, a formal complaint may be needed. You will then be guided through the process and shown how to obtain free, independent support. Once a complaint has been made, your complaint will be investigated by Complaints Manager at your local NHS Trust and you will be supported by the Independent Complaints Advocacy Service (ICAS), an agency that PALS will put you in touch with.
How does PALS work?
Each PALS is made up of NHS employees and volunteers who will deal with your question respectfully and confidentially. To find out the contact details of your local PALS either call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or go to the PALS website: http://www.pals.nhs.uk/
Each department is part of a local network that work together to provide a full service. If one PALS is unable to answer your question, they will put you in touch with another one nearby that can.
Help with health-related issues
Each PALS office will have a wide range of information on their Trust’s services and other health-related issues. If you would like to know more about a particular condition, the department may have leaflets or booklets about it or can point you to places that do.