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The NHS complaints Procedure

The NHS has a complaints procedure that is designed to be as patient focused as possible and investigate complaints effectively and efficiently.  It is a two stage process; the first is called Local Resolution.

Local resolution – directly with your GP or Dental practice

Who should I complain to? The NHS is made up from numerous different organisations.  It is important to ensure that you direct your complaint to the correct organisation so that your concerns can be investigated properly, however if you do direct it to the wrong organisation they, with your permission, can forward it to the right one.

You can complain to either the Provider or the Commissioner of the health service you are unhappy about.

  • The provider is the organisation that provides the service to you, for instance a GP, dentist, pharmacist or a hospital.
  • NHS England is the commissioner or purchaser of Primary Care i.e GPs, dentists, optician
  • Clinical Commissioning Groups commission hospital services, mental health services, out of hours services and 111 services amongst others.

Who can complain? 

Usually you should make the complaint yourself but you can ask someone else to make your complaint with your permission.

When should I complain? 

You should make your complaint as soon as possible. The NHS complaint procedure states that you should make your complaint within 12 months of either the event you are complaining about or as soon as the matter came to your attention. This time limit can be extended as long as the complaint can still be satisfactorily investigated so don’t let this prevent you from contacting NHS England about your complaint.

Can I get help to make my complaint? 

If you would like support in making your complaint NHS Advocacy is a free, confidential service which is totally independent of the NHS.  The service is provided by your local authority.  Please contact us if you would like details of the service in your area, or alternatively, your local authority Customer Services Department would be able to provide you with contact details for your local advocacy provider.

How long will it take? 

This will depend on what your complaint is about and how complex it is. The NHS complaints regulations do not require complaints to be investigated within a set timescale but instead we will agree an individual timescale with you and the services involved.

What you need to provide? 

Provide as much information as possible to allow NHS England to investigate your complaint. Include some or all of the following:-

  • your name and a valid email or home address for reply;
  • clear description of your complaint;
  • any relevant correspondence

What do NHS England do next? 

NHS England aims to acknowledge all complaints no later than the third working day after the day the complaint is received.

Investigate the complaint 

The complaint will be investigated and you will receive the findings of that investigation along with an appropriate apology and to understand if any learning or changes will take place as a result of the findings of the investigation.

How to make a complaint about a GP or Dental Practice

Directly with the GP or Dental Practice

There are two ways you can complaint about a GP or Dental practice, firstly you can go to the practice and complaint directly through the practice manager. There should then be an investigation and a response sent to you. If you are unhappy about the response and wish to take it further, you have to go through the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman at 

Directly with NHS England

The other way to complain about a GP or dentist is to go directly to NHS England, who will investigate your complaint and come back to you with a response within 28 days. Once you receive a response and are not happy you will need to go through the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman at: Otherwise you can complain directly in the following ways:

By post to:

NHS England
PO Box 16738
B97 9PT

By email to:

Please state:For the attention of the complaints team’ in the subject line.

By telephone: 0300 311 22 33

Our opening hours are:

  • Monday – Tuesday 8am to 6pm
  • Wednesday 9.30 am to 6pm
  • Thursday – Friday 8am to 6pm

We are closed at weekends and bank holidays.

We will take a note of your complaint and arrange for it to be passed to a case officer.

Second stage of the complaints process

If you are not content with our reply, the next step is to ask the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) to review your complaint and how it has been handled.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
Millbank Tower

Telephone: 0345 015 4033


The PHSO undertakes independent investigations into complaints alleging that government departments and other public bodies in the UK, including NHS England, have not acted properly or fairly or have provided a poor service. The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (or Health Service Commissioner for England) has the same powers as a court of law. NHS England therefore has a legal duty to co-operate fully with any inquiry or investigation that the PHSO carries out in relation to a complaint and to provide any relevant documents.

If you are unhappy with the Ombudsman’s decision, you can appeal directly to the PHSO

Once the Ombudsman or one of their senior staff has considered the complaint and sent a response, their decision is final. They will acknowledge any further correspondence but unless you raise new issues that they consider significant, they will not send further replies.

If you require further support – POhWER is an Independent Advocacy Service that can help

If you require further support there is an Independent Advocacy Service available, who will assign an advocate and take you through the process from start to finish and the details are below:

POhWER is a charity and membership organisation. We provide information, advice, support and advocacy to people who experience disability, vulnerability, distress and social exclusion.

POhWER was set up in 1996 and was developed by service users who, tired of others making assumptions about their capabilities and views, wanted equal access to information and a voice of their own.

Reflecting our origins, the majority of our Board are people who fall into the terms of the Equality Act and our membership is largely drawn from people who have used our services.

Our services are designed by service users for service users. Last year we provided direct advocacy to over 19,000 people and 35,000 downloaded information from our website. POhWER is one of the largest providers of advocacy in the UK.

We regularly work with:

People who feel they have been let down by the NHS and want to make a complaint,

Older people,

  • People with mental health issues,
  • People with sensory impairment,
  • People with physical disabilities,
  • People with learning disabilities,
  • People with autism,
  • People whose first language is not English,
  • People who have experienced discrimination or exclusion.
  • We aim to enable people to have information, choice and control over decisions that affect their lives, no matter what their needs.

Telephone: 0300 456 2370 (charged at local rate)
Minicom: 0300 456 2364
Text: Send the word ‘pohwer’, your name and number to 81025
Skype: powher.advocacy – 8.00am – 6.00pm

Fax: 0300 456 2365

Post: P O Box 14043, Birmingham B6 9BL

The Support Centre is open from Monday to Friday 8.00am – 6.00pm

Patient Information and Liaison Service (PILS) – This is the complaints service for NHS Hospitals only

Whether you have a query, concern, need some information or wish to make a formal complaint about the services provided by University Hospitals of Leicester our patient information advisors are here to help.

We will liaise with hospital staff or departments and other relevant organisations to resolve the issue you raise as quickly as possible.

We can also advise you about how to make a formal complaint about our service.

Contact us

Use our online contact form Free phone line: 08081 788337 Fax: 0116 258 8661

Opening times are Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm

Write to us: Patient Information and Liaison Service The Firs C/O Glenfield Hospital Groby Road Leicester LE3 9QP


Problems with other NHS services?

If your concerns are regarding your GP (doctor), dentist or optician you should contact:

NHS England on or telephone 0300 311 2233

For any concerns related to Mental Health Services, Community Services and Community Hospitals please contact the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust on 0116 295 0830.

If you have any concerns about a Pharmacist you can contact General Pharmaceutical Council by going to their website and complete a form at