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Making a complaint

How do I make a complaint?

  1. Tell people about the problem

    The first step is to informally let someone know you are having a problem. This might mean speaking to your GP or GP surgery reception staff. You can find information that can be useful when doing this on our page about common healthcare issues.

  2. if things don’t get fixed, make a formal complaint

    If you aren’t able to get the issue fixed, or you want there to be a record that a problem happened, you might want to use the formal complaint process. If your complaint is about how you were treated at a GP surgery, your GP surgery should provide information on how to do this on their website - if not, contact the surgery and ask to speak to the practice manager.

  3. consider getting support with making your complaint

    To find out what help you can get in England speak to the Patient Advice and Liaison Service, in Northern Ireland to the Patient and Client Council Complaints Support Service, in Scotland to the Patient Advice and Support Service, and in Wales to your local Community Health Council.

  4. file a formal complaint at a higher level

    There are guides on how to do this on the websites of the national healthcare organisations for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. If your complaint is about a specific person who has behaved inappropriately you could also complain to the professional body for doctors and surgeons or nurses.

  5. if you’re unhappy with the response, complain to the ombudsman

    There is information about how to do this on the website of each national ombudsman: in England the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, in NI the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman, in Scotland the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, and in Wales the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

It is important to consider making a complaint quickly as some nations have time limits after which your complaint will not be accepted.

In all parts of the UK, you can also complain about data protection issues to the Information Commissioners Office. You might want to do this if private information about you or your health conditions has been shared with someone who should not have access to this information.

If you think it might be helpful to know what has been written in your medical records, you have a legal right to ask for this information. You can find out how to get access to your medical records on these pages about the process in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

Where can I learn more?

To get support with understanding the whole complaints process you can contact the Patient’s Association helpline, or read their detailed guide to making a complaint.

You can read more about how the complaints process works in each UK nation in these resources for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

We have more information about UK medical services on these pages:

Errors and omissions

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