NHS Complaints

What do I do if I’m not happy with my NHS care and treatment?

If you’re not happy with the care or treatment you’ve received from an NHS service such as your GP, Dentist, Optician, Walk-in Centre or Hospital, or you’ve been refused treatment for a condition, you have the right to raise your concerns or complain. If you don’t want to make a formal complaint but still want to share your experiences of using local NHS services you can contact York Advocacy hub and tell us your story. We will use your feedback to help us build up a picture of NHS services in York and the issues and concerns that people are facing. We are also interested in hearing about NHS services where you have received good quality care, as other services can learn from your positive experiences.

When should I use the NHS complaints procedures?

  • you’ve spoken to staff and raised your concerns but they haven’t been fully resolved
  • what happened raises serious questions about standards of care
  • you wish to raise complex issues which require investigation
  • the issues involved concern more than one organisation.

The NHS Complaints Procedure may not be the best route to follow if:

  • you have raised your concerns or complaint and staff have listened to you and you’ve already been offered a range of options to resolve what went wrong
  • staff have listened to you and taken action to put things right  
  • the service or staff have shown that they’ve learned any lessons and reviewed their procedures and practice as a result of what happened to you.

Are there any situations where I cannot use the NHS complaints procedure to make a complaint? 


If you’ve paid for private treatment or used medical insurance you cannot use the NHS Complaints Procedure to make a complaint. The private healthcare service will have its own complaints procedure that you can follow.

If your complaint is about a privately-funded nursing homes. Most nursing homes will have their own procedures to follow if you wish to make a complaint.

It’s also important to remember that if you’re looking for financial compensation for clinical negligence you will need to speak to a solicitor who specialises in medical or clinical negligence within three years of the incident.

Where do I start?

Many complaints are caused by misunderstandings that can be put right once you explain the problem. If you feel able to, you may want to speak to a member of staff who is directly involved with your care as this is often the quickest way to put things right and prevent them from getting worse. If you tell someone but are not happy with how they or the service deal with your concerns you can make a complaint. The NHS Constitution explains your rights when it comes to making a complaint. You have the right to:

  • have your complaint dealt with efficiently, and properly investigated,
  • now the outcome of any investigation into your complaint,
  • take your complaint to the independent Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman if you’re not satisfied with the way the NHS has dealt with your complaint,
  • make a claim for judicial review if you think you’ve been directly affected by an unlawful act or decision of an NHS body, and
  • receive compensation if you’ve been harmed.

If you would like to find out more information about your right’s as a patient you can read and download the NHS Constitution from the NHS Choices website – NHS Constitution.

When should I complain?

Complaints should normally be made within 12 months of the date of the event that you’re complaining about, or as soon as the matter first came to your attention.

The time limit can sometimes be extended such as in situations where it would have been difficult for you to complain earlier, so long as it’s still possible to investigate the complaint. You will need to explain why there has been a delay in making a complaint.

If you want to make a complaint please follow our “Steps to making a complaint”