Forget the phone call and don't even bother with an email. The best way to get your complaint addressed is to put it in writing. A letter means business, and government departments such as the Department of Health must act when they receive a letter of complaint. Complaints -- like revenge -- are best served cold, so write when you are in a calm, objective frame of mind. Writing to a government health minister requires you to compose a well-planned letter that documents your complaint and clearly presents your case.
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Follow the standard business letter format -- return address, date, recipient's address, salutation, body of letter and closing. In this format, all text starts on the left-hand side of the page. Leave two blank spaces between each part of the business letter and allow one-inch margins on all four sides of the page.
Sketch an outline of your complaint to the health minister. Consult your diary and make a list of the times, dates, people you spoke with and what they told you. "Document, document, document" is the first rule of a successful complaint.
Write on letterhead, if possible, because it makes your letter look more official. Use a "Topic" or "Subject" to identify the purpose of your letter to health minister. "Topic: Medical complaint" indicates the nature of your complaint.
Keep your paragraphs and sentences short. Start a new paragraph when you change ideas. Avoid run-on sentences; use easy-to-understand language.
Take control of writing your letter of complaint so that you sound like a reasonable person with a legitimate grievance. Stick to a logical, unemotional tone. Report the facts and figures.
Get straight to the point and do not bother with pleasantries. Provide an overview in your first introductory paragraph; then, continue into the body of your letter.
Develop the points mentioned in your outline and support your statement with documented evidence. Refer to specific examples. When you change ideas, start a new paragraph. Remember to use transitions so that your letter reads smoothly.
Identify what you think is a reasonable outcome for your complaint. Indicate that you are willing to meet in person to discuss the issue.
Wrap up the final paragraph in your complaint letter by recapping the point you made. Thank the health minister for reading your letter and for responding to your complaint.
Close with "Yours sincerely."
Let your letter of complaint sit in a drawer for at least 24 hours. Edit for typing, spelling and grammatical mistakes. Then, read your letter aloud to yourself. Put yourself in your reader's place and evaluate for tone, content and clarity. Modify as required.
Tips and warnings
- Keep all original documents and only send photocopies.
- The top minister in the Department of Health is the Secretary of State for Health. He is supported by two or three more junior health ministers.
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