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Making a complaint – NHS ENGLAND

Who can complain

  • The person affected by the incident
  • A family member
  • A parent (for children under 16)
  • A friend
  • Another body, such as NHS Advocacy

You will usually need to give your permission for someone to complain on your behalf.

If you are complaining on behalf of a family member who cannot personally complain as they are too ill to do so or are mentally incapacitated, the NHS body must decide if you are a suitable representative to make a complaint.

Time limits

Your complaint should be made:

  • No later than 12 months after the event(s), or
  • No later than 12 months from the date that you were first made aware of the issues

You should, however, make your complaint as soon as possible as recollection of events may wane with the passage of time. NHS organisations may consider complaints outside these time limits and can take into account aspects such as the length of your illness.

Acknowledgement and response to your complaint

You must receive an acknowledgement of your complaint within three working days, and at the end of the investigation you should receive a formal written response.

The first stage of this is called local resolution, where the NHS body or family health service practice is required to investigate and respond to your complaint.

Unhappy with the response to your complaint

If you are not satisfied with the response to your complaint, you have the right to request an independent review of your complaint by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

If you have attempted local resolution and are not happy with the result, or the organisation you have complained about has not completed its investigation within six months, you have the right to ask for an independent review of your complaint.

You should make a request for an independent review within 12 months of the incident in question occurring or when you first became aware that something had gone wrong.

You should try to abide by this time limit but if it is not possible it is always a good idea to ask the Ombudsman to consider your request, particularly if you have a good reason for the delay such as trying to obtain other advice.

In order to assist you in writing your complaint we provide a sample letter of complaint.