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The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

If you are not satisfied with the way your complaint has been dealt with by the NHS you have the right to take your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman is independent of the NHS and their services are free and confidential.

The Ombudsman will look at every complaint that comes to them but they don’t investigate all complaints.   They will not normally investigate your case unless you have already tried to resolve the problem using local resolution.

They may send you back to the Local Resolution stage of the NHS Complaints Procedure if they think you have come to the Ombudsman too soon, or if they feel that the NHS organisation involved has not done all it can  to resolve your issues.

You should make a complaint no later than one year from the date of the events you are complaining about (or from when you first became aware of the matter), although the Ombudsman can extend this time limit, for example, if the Local Resolution process took longer than a year.

The Ombudsman will not usually investigate a complaint where:

  • You do not agree with a decision made by your NHS provider but can’t offer any evidence as to why their decision is wrong or unsatisfactory
  • They decide that there is no evidence to suggest that the NHS provider acted wrongly
  • They decide that the NHS provider or practitioner has done all they reasonably could do to put things right

They decide  there would not be a worthwhile outcome from an investigation (for example, if the outcome wanted by the complainant is not possible through this procedure)

Possible outcomes of a PHSO investigation

  1. The Ombudsman may decide not to investigate the case and take no further action (for example, if they think that the NHS has done all it can to resolve your complaint locally).
  2. The Ombudsman may decide not to investigate the case but may ask the NHS organisation to take action which they think would resolve your complaint more quickly without the need for an Ombudsman investigation; this is called an ‘intervention’.
  3. The Ombudsman may decide to carry out an in-depth investigation resulting in a detailed report about the case; this investigation will be very thorough and can, therefore, take some time. The Ombudsman aims to complete 90% of investigations within 12 months.

For more information on the PHSO and how to apply please click here

Helpline: 0345 015 4033 (8.30 am to 5.30 pm, Monday to Friday)

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