Can I complain about NHS services or staff?

When making a complaint, a patient should complain to the healthcare provider or the commissioner. This can be in writing, by email or by speaking to someone in the organisation. A complaint should be made within 12 months of the incident, or 12 months of the matter coming to a patients attention. This time limit can be extended in some cases where it is still possible to investigate a complaint.

Anyone can complain on someone’s behalf with their permission, a family member, carer, friend or local MP. A patient can also reach out to an NHS complaints advocate to help make a complaint. They are independent of the NHS and can help write a complaint, attend a meeting, or explain available options. This service is free to anyone making a complaint about their NHS treatment or care.

  • have your complaint acknowledged and properly looked into
  • be kept informed of progress and told the outcome
  • be treated fairly, politely and with respect
  • be reassured that your care and treatment will not be affected as a result of making a complaint
  • be offered the opportunity to discuss the complaint with a complaints manager/li>
  • expect appropriate action to be taken following your complaint
  • Your local Healthwatch can help you find independent NHS complaints advocacy services in your area.
  • You can also contact social services at your local council and ask about advocacy services. Find your local social services
  • POhWER is a charity that helps people to be involved in decisions being made about their care. Call POhWER’s support centre on 0300 456 2370 for advice.
  • The Advocacy People gives advocacy support. Call 0330 440 9000 for advice or text PEOPLE to 80800 and someone will get back to you.
  • Age UK may have advocates in your area. Visit their website or call 0800 055 6112.
  • VoiceAbility gives advocacy support. Call 01223 555800 for advice or find the contact details for your local VoiceAbility service

The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) offers confidential advice, support and information on health-related matters. They can:

  • Help with health related questions
  • Help resolve concerns or problems when using the NHS
  • Tell you how to get more involved in your healthcare

They can also give you information about:

  • The NHS
  • The NHS complaints procedure, including how to get independent help to make a complaint
  • Support groups outside the NHS
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