How do I make a complaint to the NHS?

If you have had an issue with any treatment that you have received from the NHS, figuring out what to do can feel daunting, especially since the NHS is such a large and bureaucratic institution, it can be hard to know who was at fault. However, the right to make a complaint is written into the NHS constitution and it is extremely important that the NHS knows about any issues that you have had in order to make the service better and to make sure that the same thing doesn’t happen to anyone else who is using the NHS for treatment. So, what can you do if you have an issue with treatment that you have received from the NHS?

Speak to a member of staff

If your issue is a minor one that can be easily resolved, your best option is to raise your complaint with a member of staff or a manager, who should be able to get your issue resolved quickly. You should also be able to obtain a feedback form from them so that your concerns can be in writing. Most hospitals also have a Patient Advice and Liaison Service, who may be able to resolve any issues that you have before making a complaint, this can be a good way to deal with any issues that need to be resolved quickly, rather than going through formal channels which can take a lot longer.

Making a formal complaint

If the issue that you have had is of a more serious nature, or you don’t feel that your issue has been taken seriously using the more informal channels mentioned above, then you can make a formal complaint to the NHS. This has to be done in one of two ways, and unfortunately you can’t make a complaint using both methods at the same time.

1) Complaining through the service provider – NHS service providers, such as GPs and hospitals, must have their own complaints procedure by law, you can normally find this information on the provider’s website, at reception, or by asking a staff member.

2) Complaining to the NHS commissioner – The NHS commissioner oversees and pays for the NHS services that you receive, you can contact them on 0300 3112233 or by contacting england.contactus@nhs.net mentioning that you have a complaint in the subject line.

How long do I have to make a complaint?

Usually, complaints will need to be made to the NHS within 12 months from the incident occurring. However, if there are reasons why you were not able to make the complaint, such as not knowing that there was an issue at the time, or you were unable to make to complaint due to health reasons, this period may be extended.

What if I want compensation?

If your complaint is due to negligence which has caused you or a family member injury, then you should contact a medical negligence solicitor, who will be able to advise you on whether you have a case for compensation, how much compensation that you might get, and the chances of winning a case against the NHS. This may also be an option if you feel that the NHS has not taken complaints about the quality of your care seriously, and you wish to take further action. Claiming compensation from the NHS can be a long process, but your medical negligence solicitor will be able to do most of the work that is involved in the process