Is an NHS Complaint the right route for you  

 You have the right to make a complaint about any aspect of NHS care, treatment or service.  If you’re unhappy, it’s often worthwhile to talk about your concerns early on with the provider of the service, as they may be able to sort the issue out quickly.    Making a complaint and getting a response can take a considerable length of time so it’s important to make sure it’s the right route for you before you start.

Use our flow chart (that you can download at the bottom of this page) to help you decide whether a formal complaint is the right route for you.


 Complaints should normally be made within 12 months of an incident or of the matter coming to your attention.

This time limit can be extended provided you have good reasons for not making the complaint sooner and the NHS organisation decides it’s possible to still complete an investigation. Often, if a complaint happened some time ago, staff will have moved on and not be available to talk to about what happened.  Unfortunately, this can limit the investigation and what can be achieved.

Talking to the provider of the service

Raising the problem with the staff involved or the manager of the team can sometimes help. They may be able to solve the problem informally and quickly before you need to make a complaint.  In the case of GP issues this could be talking to the GP themselves or the manager of the practice.

Contacting your local PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service)

 You’ll find a PALS in most hospitals. PALS can help you resolve issues informally with hospitals before you need to make a complaint.  They can be particularly helpful if your issue is urgent and you need action immediately, such as a problem with the treatment or care you receive while in hospital.

You can get in touch with PALS by contacting your local hospital (see ‘USEFUL CONTACTS’).



what do you want to get out of making a complaint?


Outcomes that you may be able to get

 ·        An apology

 ·        An explanation

 ·        Promises that lessons have been learnt and things will change so what happened won’t happen again in the future

 ·        Treatment 

 You can sometimes get treatment but, as complaints take time, it may be better to

speak to your GP or PALS team first (see ‘USEFUL CONTACTS’) to see if they can help.


Outcomes that you won’t be able to get

 ·        Legal action

 If you are seeking financial compensation for damage to health caused by medical negligence you will need to take legal action

Before starting legal action you may find it helpful to make an NHS complaint to find out more about what has happened as it could help you decide whether to go ahead with a clinical negligence case.

If you’re thinking about taking legal action about clinical negligence, you should contact a solicitor specialised in clinical negligence cases (see ‘USEFUL CONTACTS’).

 ·        Staff disciplined, sacked or prosecuted

 You cannot get staff disciplined, sacked or prosecuted by making an NHS Complaint.

If you think that an NHS practitioner has been guilty of professional misconduct, it may be possible to complain to the practitioner’s professional or regulatory body (see ‘USEFUL CONTACTS’).

·        Financial Compensation

 If you are seeking a small amount of money for, perhaps, lost property, damaged items or loss of earnings, you can raise this as part of an NHS Complaint.  For larger amounts relating to medical negligence, you will need to take legal action.