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If you are unhappy with the treatment or service you have received from the NHS
you are entitled to make a complaint, have it considered, and receive a response
from the NHS organisation or primary care practitioner concerned.
A Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) has been established in every NHS
Trust and Clinical Commissioning Group. PALS are not part of the complaints
procedure itself but they might be able to resolve your concerns informally or can
tell you more about the complaints procedure and independent complaints
Who can complain?
A complaint can be made by a patient or person affected or likely to be affected
by the actions or decisions of a NHS organisation or primary care practitioner. A
complaint can also be made by someone acting on behalf of the patient or
person, with their consent.
What is the time limit for making a complaint?
You should normally complain within 12 months of the event(s) concerned or
within 12 months of becoming aware that you have something to complain about.
Primary care practitioners and complaints managers in NHS organisations have
discretion to waive this time limit if there are good reasons why you could not
To whom should I complain initially?
The first stage of the NHS complaints procedure is ‘Local Resolution’. Your
complaint should be made in the first instance to the organisation or primary care
practitioner providing the service. Local resolution aims to resolve complaints
quickly and as close to the source of the complaint as possible using the most
appropriate means; for example, use of conciliation.
You can raise your concerns immediately by speaking to a member of staff (e.g.
doctor, nurse, dentist, GP or practice manager) or someone else, e.g. the PALS.
They may be able to resolve your concerns without the need to make a more
However, if you do want to continue with your complaint you can do this orally or
by writing (including e-mail) to the primary care practitioner or the NHS
organisation concerned. If you make your complaint orally a written record should
be made by the complaints manager.
You should receive a response from a primary care practitioner within 10 working
days or from the Head of Corporate Affairs of the NHS organisation concerned
within 20 working days. You should be kept informed of progress if this is not
going to happen.
If you are unhappy with the response to your complaint, including a complaint
about an NHS Foundation Trust, you can ask the Health Service Ombudsman for
an “Independent Review” of your case.
The Health Service Ombudsman is an independent body established to promote improvements in healthcare.
Complaints helpline: 0345 014 4033 (Monday–Friday, 8.30am to 5.30pm)
Fax: 0300 061 4000
Address: The Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman
London SW1P 4QP
Where can I get further advice and help?
The PALS or complaints manager at the NHS organisation you are complaining
about can provide advice, including about local independent complaints
Telephone: 0118 982 2829
The Independent Complaints Advocacy Service (ICAS) provides advice and
support to people who want to complain about the NHS. Details are at
Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of all health
and social care in England. They monitor, inspect and regulate all hospitals, care
homes, home-care agencies, GP practices and dental practices.
www.cqc.org.uk / 03000 616161