Department of Health

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How to complain about the NHS

  • Last modified date:
    6 December 2007

The Department of Health does not investigate individual complaints - these must be pursued using the NHS complaints procedure.

Click on the links below to view or print off a public information leaflet that provides details of the NHS complaints procedure and what you need to do if you want to complain about the NHS.

Where can I get help with my complaint?

You can talk to patient advice and liaison service (PALS) staff or complaints manager at the NHS trust hospital or primary care trust involved in your complaint. They may be able to resolve your concerns on the spot or can provide you with details of how to complain

You can also contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647.

An independent complaints advocacy service (ICAS) is available to provide advice and support to people who wish to complain about the NHS. Click on the link below for more information on ICAS and details of an ICAS provider near you.

What if I am taking legal action?

If you are taking legal action or state that you intend to start legal action then you may not also use the NHS complaints procedure, unless part of your complaint is about something not connected with the legal action. If you stop the legal action (or there are outstanding issues that have not been resolved by the legal action), then you can still use the NHS complaints procedure to pursue your concerns.

What if I pay for private treatment in a NHS hospital?

If you have paid for treatment from a consultant and this was provided in a NHS hospital's private pay bed then the NHS complaints procedure will not cover this (including any financial redress) even though it was provided in NHS premises. You will need to take this up with the consultant direct and/or contact the General Medical Council. However, the NHS complaints procedure will cover any complaint made about the hospital's staff (other than the consultant) or facilities relating to the care in its private pay beds.

What if I have had private treatment paid for by the NHS?

In these circumstances the NHS complaints procedure will apply if you wish to use it and the complaints manager at the NHS organisation that funded your treatment will be able to advise you. However, the independent provider where you received your treatment should also have its own complaints procedure as required by the Care Standards Act 2000 and you can use this, as an alternative to the NHS complaints procedure, if you wish.

What is the role of the regulatory bodies?

It might be more appropriate to make your complaint to the relevant regulatory body and links to the websites for these are provided on the on the right-hand side of the Home Page of this section. Staff at the relevant body will be able to tell you if your complaint can be investigated by them.

How do I contact my local NHS organisations?

Contact details for your local NHS organisations will be in your phone book or available at your local library or Citizens Advice Bureau. Alternatively you can click on the link below and follow the instructions.

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