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The Complaints Process

Who can complain?

Anyone can complain, including young people.  A  family member, carer, friend or your local MP can complain on your behalf with your permission.

How soon do you need to complain?

You should make your complaint within 12 months of the incident or within 12 months of the matter coming to your attention. This time limit can sometimes be extended as long as it is still possible to investigate your complaint.

Who do you complain to?

You can choose to complain to either of the following:

The healthcare provider

This is the organisation where you received the NHS service, for example, your hospital or mental health service trust.   If you are complaining about a GP or Dentist you can complain to them directly or you can send the complaint via NHS England (see USEFUL CONTACTS)

The commissioner of the service

This is the organisation that pays for the service or care you received. This will vary depending on the NHS service you are complaining about.

  • If your complaint is about primary care services such as GPs, dentists, opticians or pharmacy services, contact NHS England.
  • If your complaint is about services such as hospital care, mental health services, out of hours services and community services such as district nursing, contact your local clinical commissioning group(CCG) (see USEFUL CONTACTS).

Complaining to the commissioner may be the right option if you are not comfortable complaining directly to your healthcare provider, or if you feel it’s not appropriate. 

What if your complaint is about more than one organisation?

If your complaint is about more than one NHS organisation, you only need to send a letter to one of the organisations and ask them lead a ‘coordinated response’.   They should contact the other organisation and work with them to deal with your complaint.

For more information please see our full NHS self advocacy pack.