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.

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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