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Making an NHS complaint

If you are dissatisfied with the treatment that you or a family member has received from the NHS, you may wish to make a formal complaint before considering any legal action. The NHS Complaints Procedure applies to all NHS hospitals (and private hospitals if the care was under the NHS), Primary Care Trusts and any services provided for the NHS by GPs, Dentists, Opticians or Pharmacists.

The NHS Complaints Procedure is unlikely to achieve a substantial (if any) amount of compensation, but it can offer an explanation of what has happened to you, an apology and information about any changes to procedures to ensure such incidents do not occur again. Following the complaints procedure may also assist your solicitor if you are to proceed further with a potential claim.

Your complaint should be made as soon as possible but no later than 12 months after the event in question (or the date that you were first made aware of the issue). Whilst NHS organisations do have some discretion to consider a complaint made outside these time limits, this is not something to be relied upon.

Your complaint should be made in writing and addressed to the Chief Executive or Complaints Manager of the healthcare provider. You should include a chronology of events, the reason why you are complaining, any questions you have regarding your care and what result you want from the complaint – e.g. an apology, a review of the processes in place, etc.

The healthcare provider must acknowledge your complaint within three working days. At this point, they should offer you the opportunity to discuss your complaint with someone and advise you of the time frame within which you are likely to receive a formal response. If at any point there is likely to be a delay in providing your response, the healthcare provider should notify you in writing of the reason and the new time frame. Whilst there is no formal time limit for the NHS to investigate and respond to your complaint, the whole process should be discussed and agreed upon with you, including any extensions. At the end of the investigation, you should receive a formal written response.

If you are not satisfied with the response to your complaint, you can continue to try to resolve the complaint locally with the healthcare provider, or you can request an Independent Review by the Health Service Ombudsman. You should make a request for an Independent Review within 12 months of receiving the care provider’s final written response to your complaint.

If you are still dissatisfied with the response to your complaint, please get in touch with Grayston’s solicitors on 0151 645 0055 to see if we can assist you further.


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