Expert advice for how to make a NHS complaint

If you are unhappy with the treatment or service you have received from the NHS, you are entitled to make a complaint, have it considered, and receive a response.

Local Resolution

The NHS complaints procedure covers complaints made by a person about any matter connected with the provision of NHS services by NHS organisations or primary care practitioners (GPs, dentists, opticians and pharmacists). The procedure also covers services provided overseas or by the private sector, where the NHS has paid for them.

Who can complain?

A complaint can be made by a patient or person affected or likely to be affected by the actions or decisions of a NHS organisation or primary care practitioner. A complaint can also be made by someone acting on behalf of the patient or person, with their consent.

What is the time limit for making a complaint?

You should normally complain no later than 12 months after the event(s) concerned or of becoming aware that you have something to complain about. Primary care practitioners and complaints managers in NHS organisations have discretion to waive this time limit if there are good reasons why you could not complain earlier and it is still possible to investigate the complaint effectively and fairly.

To whom should I complain initially?

The first stage of the NHS complaints procedure is ‘Local Resolution’. Your complaint should be made in writing to the Chief Executive of the Trust who has provided your care, or Practice Manager of a GP or Dental surgery.

You should receive an acknowledgement (orally or in writing) when the complaint is received and at the time of acknowledgement, the NHS Provider must offer to discuss with you at a time to be agreed with you the period in which:

  • a) their investigation is likely to be completed;
  • b) their response is likely to be available.

Responses can be provided in writing, or you may receive an invitation to attend a meeting to discuss your concerns. It is your choice how you would like them to respond to the concerns that you have raised. If you decide to attend a meeting, check who will be attending to ensure that they will be able to suitably address your concerns. You should also request in advance that minutes be taken, and a written copy sent to you after the meeting.

The Health Service Ombudsman

If you remain unhappy after local resolution and independent review then you can complain to the Health Service Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is completely independent of both the NHS and Government. You can contact the Ombudsman at Government and Health Service Ombudsman, Millbank Tower, Millbank, London, SW1P 4QP.

Where can I get further advice and help?

If you require any assistance in making your complaint, you can contact the NHS Complaints Advocacy Service. The service provided is free, independent and confidential.

They can give you advice about how to make a complaint; Provide you with information about who to complain to and how; Support and help you with drafting letters; Represent you or attend meetings with you.

If you contact the, please let them know that you obtained their details from us, but tell them that you have not instructed us to investigate a clinical negligence claim, as they will not be able to help you to make a complaint if you have already instructed a solicitor.

They can be contacted on 0300 330 5454 or their website contains further information which you may find useful.

If you are unsure whether you should make a complaint or a claim please contact us on 0113 284 5000 or for further information and free advice.