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NHS complaints procedure

If you’re unable to resolve your complaint informally, you can choose to escalate your complaint through official channels. In this situation, there are two main stages – (1) formal complaint and (2) Health Ombudsman.

Stage 1 – formal complaint

The NHS and its healthcare providers have a formal procedure for making a complaint. This is known as ‘local resolution’ and is the first step in the formal complaints process.

Your complaint can be against a service – a doctors’ or dental surgery, for example. Or it can be a complaint against an individual, such as an anaesthetist, nurse or surgeon. You can make the complaint yourself, or it can be made on your behalf.

At this initial stage, the NHS provider that treated you will manage your complaint. You’ll find their contact details on the provider’s website, or contact NHS England for help. In our experience, the majority of NHS complaints are successfully resolved at this stage.

For your complaint to be properly investigated, it’s important that you provide as much factual information as possible. You might find our tips for making your complaint useful.

Step 2 – Health Ombudsman

If you feel that your complaint hasn’t been dealt with properly by your local trust or provider, you can refer the matter to the Health Ombudsman. They’re independent of the NHS and government and can undertake an impartial review of your complaint.

For the Health Ombudsman to review your complaint, you must provide as much factual information regarding your treatment as possible. You’ll also need to say why you’re dissatisfied with your response from the NHS.

You must have received a final response to your complaint before the Health Ombudsman can look at it. The Ombudsman will need a copy of this in writing.

Taking action

If you’re unhappy with the NHS care or treatment you’ve received, you have the right to complain. You also have the right to have your complaint investigated and be given a full and prompt reply.

For guidance and help in making a complaint to the NHS, contact our team on 0117 992 8900 or complete our online enquiry form.