The National Health Service (NHS) Complaints Procedures

Complaining about NHS treatment or service

If you have a complaint about NHS treatment or an NHS service, you may want to consider making a formal complaint direct to the NHS before considering any legal action – even if it involves a potential clinical negligence claim.

There is an NHS complaints procedure available for any patient who has a grievance about what they perceive to be an unprofessional service, poor treatment or maladministration with regard to NHS treatment. Examples of a poor service or treatment which may merit a complaint include:

  • incorrect or delayed diagnosis
  • incorrect treatment
  • a medical product has failed
  • lack of communication
  • discrimination
  • failure to provide appropriate pain relief, nutrition and or hydration
  • inordinate delays for treatment or consultations, including cancelled operations/procedures
  • poor hygiene or cleanliness at the hospital/clinic
  • poor standard of behaviour of NHS staff
  • wrong medication prescribed
  • issues relating to consent
  • issues relating to discharge from hospital
  • lack of follow up information following treatment/surgery
  • errors in medical records, or loss of medical records

If you believe you have ground to make a claim for clinical negligence (also known as medical negligence), read our article: Clinical Negligence in the National Health Service.

Before making a formal complaint

If you want to make a complaint, the NHS advises that you first attempt a ‘local resolution’. This means approaching the specific NHS service, whether it is your hospital, GP or dentist, and obtain a copy of their own complaints procedure. Every NHS service provider has its own complaint procedure which will explain what you need to do to raise a grievance with them. Alternatively, you can write or email them – or speak directly with them.

Achieving a favourable outcome, such as an apology or other form of redress, through local resolution is far more favourable and efficient for all the parties than going through the formal NHS complaints process.

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For more information on:

  • Making a complaint
  • Lodging a complaint with the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
  • Care Quality Commission and other regulators