Published 15th July 2019 | Medical Negligence

How to make a complaint to the NHS in England

ComplaintAre you unhappy about the treatment you have received from the NHS? Have errors been made and you wish to receive some answers? Here is some information with some top tips in making a complaint to the NHS organisation.

The National Health Service (NHS) has been delivering care to our nation since 1948. When the institution was founded, it’s aims were to keep the workforce healthy, reduce premature death and allow a dignified end for everyone.

71 years on, and the NHS has changed beyond all recognition, holding a much broader scope and a focus on prolonging life.

Over the same period, the population has increased from approximately 50 million to 66 million. But not only are we growing, we are also living longer – adding to the heaped pressure the NHS system is experiencing.

NHS England’s goal is to provide high quality care for all, however, occasionally things do go wrong.

Before seeking legal advice, you have to bring a complaint to the NHS organisation you are unhappy with.

What is a complaint?


A complaint is a formal action you take when you are not happy with an organisation’s service and you want the organisation to answer your concerns and put things right.

Making your complaint


The first complaint in writing should be to the person or organisation who provided the service, for example, your GP or hospital. If you’re not sure how to do this, your local Healthwatch can help.

Alternatively, you can complain to the commissioner of that service – either NHS England or the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

It is important that you make your complaint clear and include;

  • What happened
  • Where it happened
  • When it happened
  • Who was involved
  • How it has affected you

Tell the organisation what you would like them to do to put things right. This may be to provide an apology, or take action to prevent further errors.

It is best to submit your complaint as soon as you can while events are fresh in your mind.

Once you have made a complaint there will be an investigation into the claim so it can be resolved efficiently.

Keeping a diary is advised so that you can easily take notes of names and any responses.

Need help with your complaint?


The Patient Advise and Liaison Service (PALS) are available to support you through your complaint.

Who are PALS?

Pals offer confidential advice and support. They provide a point of contact for patients or their families.

What can PALS help with?

  • Answering your questions
  • Resolve concerns or problems

What information can they give me?

  • Information surrounding the NHS
  • The NHS complaints procedure
  • Details of support groups outside the NHS

How do I contact PALS?

Request your medical notes and records


If you are willing to take action against your treatment, you will first need to contact your GP/Hospital to request your notes and records. These are free of charge and must be given to you within 40 days of your request.

These will help to establish your case and give evidence of how the conduct has fallen below the standard.

This evidence is vital to make sure your case can continue.

What will happen next?


The NHS will provide a written response that will include it’s findings and apologies. They will also include what has or will happen as a result of your complaint.

A legal outcome may result in compensation if you can prove two legal tests; breach of duty (that the practitioner is liable) and causation (that you were harmed as a result of the practitioner’s actions).

Contact Us


If you have reached the end of the complaints process and wish to take further action, please contact our Medical Negligence team. We are a friendly team of nationally recognised experts in our field who are ready to help you.
Speak to our specialist Medical Negligence solicitors by calling us on 01525 378177 or contacting us online.

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