You can give feedback, make comments or raise concerns or complaints about the health care you, or the person you care for, gets.
This includes help you get from:
- healthcare and hospital staff
- ambulance staff
You can complain on behalf of the person you care for if they agree that you can, or if you have a Health and Welfare Local Power of Attorney. You can also complain on behalf of a child if they are not old enough to make the complaint themselves.
Try to sort the problem out informally
Try to talk directly to the health professional or NHS service where you, or the person you care for, are being treated. Think about what you would like as an outcome and see if the problem can be sorted quickly and informally.
Get help and advice to resolve the problem
You can get support to help you resolve issues with some NHS services before they become formal complaints. These services will also be able to help you, or the person you care for, through the process of making a complaint if needed.
- If you live in England and you want to complain about a hospital, community care or mental health service (not GP or dentist) the patient advice and liaison service (PALS) may be able to help you sort out the issue. They can explain the complaints process and help you work out what is the best option for you. PALS teams are usually hospital based. Find your nearest PALS using online search.
- If you live in Wales your local Community Health Council can help you to make a complaint. They provide free and independent advocacy.
- If you live in Scotland the Patient Advice and Support Service (PASS) can support you if you want to make a complaint. You can also contact any Citizens Advice Bureau in Scotland to ask about PASS.
- If you live in Northern Ireland the Patient and Client Council (PCC) can help you make a complaint. They provide free and confidential advice and information. Find contact details for your PCC.
If you need help to make a complaint then advocacy may be able to help.
Make a formal complaint directly to the organisation
If you have tried to sort out the problem informally and you are still not happy with the outcome it may be time to make a more formal complaint.
All NHS services will have a complaints procedure. This may be on their website, in their waiting room, or you can just ask staff for more information. They will also have someone who is responsible for dealing with complaints and you can ask to speak to them. For a GP, dentist or pharmacy this is likely to be the manager.
Complain to the NHS directly
If you don’t want to complain directly to the NHS service where you received treatment you can contact the NHS directly. How you do this depends on where you live.
NHS complaints in England
Instead of complaining directly to the NHS services where you, or the person you care for, are being treated, you can also complain to NHS England or your local clinical commissioning group (CCG).
- To complain about GPs, dentists, opticians or pharmacists (primary care) contact NHS England
- To complain about hospitals and other secondary care (such as mental health services, out of hours services, NHS 111 and community services) contact your local clinical commissioning group (CCG). The CCG is the group that pays for the NHS services that you use where you live. Every CCG will have its own complaints procedure, which should be on their website. Search for your local clinical commissioning group (CCG) online.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman can help you if your problem has not been resolved by the NHS in England.
If you need help to make your complaint find out more about advocacy.
Find out more about when and who can make a complaint about the NHS in England on feedback and complaints about the NHS in England.
NHS complaints in Wales
Health Boards are responsible for health services in their area, and each of these boards will have staff that can help you with your complaint. You can find more information about making an NHS complaint in Wales (including contact details for your local Health Board and your local Community Health Council) on NHS complaints on the Health in Wales website.
NHS complaints in Scotland
In Scotland you can contact your local NHS Board if you don’t want to complain directly to the service. Call the NHS inform Helpline on 0800 22 44 88 or visit the NHS inform website to find the contact details for your local NHS Board.
If your complaint is about NHS 24, the Golden Jubilee National Hospital, the State Hospital or the Scottish Ambulance Service see the NHS Scotland feedback and complaints guide (please note that this link goes directly to the guide).
If you have made a complaint to the NHS and you are still not happy with their response contact The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) and ask them to look into it further.
Make a complaint about health services in Northern Ireland
Health services in Northern Ireland also include nursing and residential homes, as well as hospitals, community services, ambulance services, social services, family doctors and health service pharmacists, opticians and dentists.
If you don’t want to complain directly to the organisation where you, or the person you care for, are getting treatment, you can contact the Health and Social Care (HSC) Board directly. You can find out more about how to make a complaint against the health service in Northern Ireland on indirect.
Let others know about your experiences of the NHS
There are also websites, such as Patient Opinon, where you can let others know about your experiences of using health services.
Next update due: June 2017