How to Complain to the NHS

You have the right to make a complaint about any aspect of NHS care, treatment or service, and this is written into the NHS Constitution on GOV.UK.

The information on this page will guide you through the NHS complaints process, as well as the core requirements for NHS complaints handling.

The NHS encourages feedback because it's used to improve services. If you wish to share your views and experiences, positive or negative, simply speak to a member of staff.

Many service providers have feedback forms available on their premises or websites. Sometimes the NHS will ask for your feedback.

If you're unhappy with an NHS service, it's often worthwhile discussing your concerns early on with the provider of the service, as they may be able to sort the issue out quickly.

Most problems can be dealt with at this stage, but in some cases you may feel more comfortable speaking to someone not directly involved in your care.

If you're considering making a complaint but need help

Many issues can be resolved quickly by speaking directly to the staff at the place where you received care or accessed a service.

Some people find it helpful to talk to someone who understands the complaints process first and get some guidance and support.

The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) is a free, confidential and independent service that you'll find in most hospitals.

You can speak with a PALS member, who'll try to help you resolve issues informally with the hospital before you need to make a complaint.

PALS 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.

If you're making, or thinking about making, a complaint, you could get help from an NHS complaints advocate.

An advocate can help you to write a complaint letter and attend meetings with you, but cannot make the complaint for you or give medical or legal advice.

You can get advice from an NHS complaints advocate at any stage of the process. If you decide you need some support, it's never too late to ask for help. Search online for 'NHS complaints advocacy' in your area.

Find out more about how to complain about NHS care on the VoiceAbility website

Healthwatch is an independent statutory body that helps make sure your feedback is listened to.

Find your local Healthwatch

Complaining about NHS services

Everyone who provides an NHS service in England must have their own complaints procedure.

You can often find information in waiting rooms, at reception, on the service provider's website, or by asking a member of staff.

You can either complain to the NHS service provider directly (such as a GP, dentist surgery or hospital) or to the commissioner of the services, which is the body that pays for the NHS services you use. You cannot apply to both.

In the event of a complaint about more than one organisation – perhaps a complaint that includes issues about your GP, local hospital and ambulance service – the organisations must co-operate with each other to make sure you get a co-ordinated response.

How do I find the commissioner?

Contact your local integrated care board (ICB) for complaints about primary care services (GPs, dentists, opticians or pharmacists) and secondary care, such as hospital care, mental health services, out-of-hours services, NHS 111 and community services like district nursing.

Every ICB will have its own complaints procedure, which is often displayed on its website.

Find your local integrated care board (ICB)

Contact NHS England for complaints about healthcare in prison, military health services, and specialised services that support people with a range of rare and complex conditions.

Find out about complaining to NHS England

Contact your local council if your complaint is about public health organisations, which provide services that prevent disease, promote health and prolong life.

Find your local council on GOV.UK

Complaining about adult social care services

If you're unhappy with a social care service, care home or home care and you're paying for your own care, you may want to speak to the service provider first.

But if you want to make a complaint, the organisations that provide these services will have their own complaints arrangements.

If your care is funded or arranged by your local council, you may wish to raise the issues with the care provider in the first instance.

If you'd prefer not to do that, you can raise your concerns directly with your local council.

Find your local council on GOV.UK

Complaining about the use of the Mental Health Act

If you wish to make a complaint about a mental health service, you should either contact the service provider or the local ICB.

But if you wish to complain about the use of the Mental Health Act on someone detained in hospital or put on a guardianship or under a community treatment order, complain to the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Find out how to complain about the use of the Mental Health Act on the CQC website

Complaining about care your child is receiving

If you have concerns about the care your child is receiving, raise it with the team caring for your child. They will want to know if there is a problem or a concern so they can try to resolve it. If necessary, you can escalate your concern to a more senior team member.

Some hospitals offer family liaison nurses, who act as contacts between medical teams, nursing teams and families. You can ask the team caring for your child how to contact the family liaison nurse.

Useful resources for parents or carers

Making a complaint

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

This time limit can be extended provided you have good reasons for not making the complaint sooner and it's possible to complete a fair investigation.

This will be a decision taken by the complaints manager in discussion with you.

You can make a complaint verbally, in writing or by email. If you make your complaint verbally, a record of your complaint will be made and you'll be provided with a written copy.

If you're complaining on behalf of someone else, include their written consent with your letter (if you're making your complaint in writing) as this will speed up the process.

If the person cannot give their consent, for example, if they have died or lack mental capacity, or are a child who cannot complain for themselves, you may be able to complain for them.

If you need advice or would like support, find out more about NHS complaints advocacy on the VoiceAbility website.


What to expect

You should expect an acknowledgement and the offer of a discussion about the handling of your complaint within 3 working days of receiving your complaint.

If you accept, the discussion will cover the period within which a response to your complaint is likely to be sent.

There's no set timeframe, and this will depend on the nature of your complaint.

If, in the end, the response is delayed for any reason, you should be kept informed.

Once your complaint has been investigated, you'll receive a written response.

The response should set out the findings and, where appropriate, provide apologies and information about what's being done as a result of your complaint.

It should also include information about how the complaint has been handled and details of your right to take your complaint to the relevant ombudsman.

If you're not happy with the outcome

If your problem persists or you're not happy with the way your complaint has been dealt with locally, you can complain to the relevant ombudsman.


If you've reached the end of the complaints process and are not happy with the organisation's final decision, you have the right to bring your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman to look at.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman makes final decisions on unresolved complaints about the NHS in England. This organisation is independent of the NHS.

For more information, call their helpline on 0345 015 4033 or visit the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman website.

Social care

You have the right to take your complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO), which is independent of local authorities and care providers.

For more information, call their helpline on 0300 061 0614 or visit the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman website.

Other ways to give feedback

Sometimes the NHS will ask for your feedback.

The Friends and Family Test (FFT) is available for NHS services, including hospitals, GP practices and mental health services.

The FFT is an anonymous and quick way for you to provide feedback to an NHS service about the service provided to you.

Find out more about the FFT

There are other, more in-depth national survey programmes you might be invited to take part in to find out about your experience of the NHS.

The Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) questionnaire invites patients who have recently had a hip or knee replacement to give feedback on the care they received.

Find out more about PROMs on NHS England's website

There are many websites, including this one, that invite you to comment, give feedback, or even rate NHS services or facilities.

You can comment on health and social care services in England on the NHS website.

Find services near you and select a service

You can either leave an overall star rating or post a review for other patients to see.

If you wish to comment or give feedback about this website or make a complaint about our content or any operational issues, visit the Contact the NHS page and select an option.

If you wish to make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, check whether what you want is already published.

Find out how to make a freedom of information (FOI) request

If you're aware of, or concerned about, fraud being committed by individuals or organisations within the NHS, you can report this securely and confidentially to the NHS Counter Fraud Authority. You can also report fraud anonymously.

The NHS Counter Fraud Authority has national responsibility for tackling:

  • fraud
  • bribery
  • corruption
  • criminal damage
  • theft

To stop NHS fraud, call 0800 028 4060 or report NHS fraud on the NHS Counter Fraud Authority website.

How to Complain at Beech House Surgery

Complaints Procedure

Making a Complaint

Most problems can be sorted out quickly and easily with the person concerned, often at the time they arise, and this may be the approach you try first.
Where you are not able to resolve your complaint in this way and wish to make a formal complaint you should do so, preferably in writing as soon as possible after the event and ideally within a few days, giving as much detail as you can, as this helps us to establish what happened more easi-ly. In any event, this should be:

Within 12 months of the incident,

or within 12 months of you becoming aware of the matter

If you are a registered patient you can complain about your own care. You are not normally able to complain about someone else’s treatment without their written authority. See the separate section in this leaflet for what to do in this case.

We are able to provide you with a separate complaints form to register your complaint and this in-cludes a third-party authority form to enable a complaint to be made by someone else. Please ask at reception for this. You can provide this in your own format providing it covers all of the necessary aspects.

Send your written complaint to:

Rachael Powell, Patient Services Manager at the practice address or via email at 

You may also make your complaint directly to Humber and North Yorkshire ICB, who commission our service:

The Experience Team, Humber and North Yorkshire ICB, Health Place, Wrawby Road, Brigg DN20 8GS
Tel 01904 555999

What We Do Next

We aim to settle complaints as soon as possible.

We will usually acknowledge receipt within three working days, and aim to resolve the matter as soon as possible but will give you some idea of how long that may take at the outset.

You will then receive a formal reply in writing, or you may be invited to meet with the person(s) concerned to attempt to resolve the issue.

If the matter is likely to take longer than this we will let you know, and keep you in-formed as the investigation progresses.
When looking into a complaint, we attempt to see what happened and why, to see if there is something we can learn from this, and make it possible for you to discuss the issue with those involved if you wish to do so.

When the investigations are complete, a final written re-sponse will be sent to you.

Where your complaint involves more than one organisation (e.g. social services) we will liaise with that organisation so that you receive one coordinated reply. We may need your consent to do this.

Where your complaint has been initially sent to an incorrect organisation, we may seek your consent to forward this to the correct person to deal with.

The final response letter will include details of the result of your complaint and also your right to refer the matter fur-ther to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (details shown elsewhere in this leaflet) if you remain dis-satisfied with the response.

The Practice Complaints Managers is:
Rachael Powell (Patient Services Manager)


Complaining on Behalf of Someone Else

We keep to the strict rules of medical and personal confidentiality. If you wish to make a complaint and are not the patient involved, we will require the written consent of the patient to confirm that they are unhappy with their treatment and that we can deal with someone else about it.

In the event the patient is deceased, then we may agree to respond to a family member or anyone acting on their behalf or who has had an interest in the wel-fare of the patient.

Please ask at reception for the Complaints Form, which contains a suitable authority for the patient to sign to enable the complaint to proceed. Alternatively, we will send one to you to return to us when we receive your initial written complaint.

Where the patient is incapable of providing consent due to illness, accident or mental capacity, it may still be possible to deal with the complaint. Please provide the precise details of the circumstances that prevent this in your covering letter.

Please note that we are unable to discuss any issue relating to someone else without their express permission, which must be in writing, unless the cir-cumstances above apply. You may also find that if you are complaining on behalf of a child who is capable of making their own complaint, we will expect that child to contact us themselves to lodge their complaint.

We may still need to correspond directly with the pa-tient, or may be able to deal directly with the third par-ty. This depends on the wording of the authority provided


If you are dissatisfied with the outcome

You have the right to approach the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman. Their contact details are:

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Millbank Tower 30 Millbank London SW1P 4QP

Tel: 0345 0154033

Website: (to complain online or download a paper form).

You may also approach the ICB Experience Team, Healthwatch or the Independent Health Complaints Advocacy for help or advice;

The local Healthwatch can be found at:

The IHCA is able to be contacted at:

The Experience Team, Humber and North Yorkshire ICB, Health Place, Wrawby Road, Brigg DN20 8GS
Tel 01904 555999