How to complain about your care

We are all entitled to receive quality mental health care, and it is important to be aware of the appropriate ways to complain about your care and express concerns and complaints.

If you are dissatisfied with your GP, doctor’s surgery, mental health service or any other NHS treatment, you have the option to lodge a complaint with them directly, or to the NHS trust in your region. This guide outlines things you can do if you are not satisfied with the wuality of care you have received.

Complain about your GP surgery

The NHS Constitution says that you have a right to have your GP complaint properly investigated. Certain issues can be resolved quickly if you’re comfortable raising them informally with staff.

If you’d like to make an offical complaint about your GP or your GP surgery, ask them for a copy of their complaints procedure, and use this to help you.

Keep a record of the individuals you communicate with, whether in person or in writing, along with the corresponding times and dates.If you raise your complaint verbally, make sure you write down everything you discuss. If you are verbally making a complaint, explicity state that this should be taken as a formal complaint.

Included in your formal complaint should be the following:

  • What or who you’re complaining about
  • What happened and when
  • What you’d like to be done to resolve your complaint
  • How to contact you to discuss it further

Your complaint should be acknowledged within three working days, and you should also be told about the outcome of the investigation. Once your complaint has been investigated, you’ll receive a written response.

To have your complaint investigated, you usually need to complain within 12 months of the event happening, or as soon as you first become aware of the issue you want to complain about.

Contact your local NHS trust

Depending on where you live in the UK, the NHS complaints process may be slightly different. If you don’t want to complain directly to your GP or doctor’s surgery, or you are dissatisfied with their response, you need to contact the NHS trust in your region:

Get help with your complaint

You local NHS trust may have an advocacy service to help support you during your complaint process, or may be able to refer you to a local advocacy service. To find contact information in your local area, contact your local authority’s customer services department.

Your local Healthwatch can also signpost you to organisations that can help with your GP complaint, and have a useful guide to making a complaint.

You local Citizens Advice offer may also be able to help. They also have a guide to making a complaint.

Complain to the Ombudsman

If you’re unhappy with the final response from your GP practice you can take your complaint to the health service ombudsman. The ombudsman is independent of the NHS and free to use. It can help resolve your complaint, and tell the NHS how to put things right if it has got them wrong.

The ombudsman only has legal powers to investigate certain complaints.

You must have received a final response from your GP practice before the ombudsman can look at your complaint. The ombudsman will generally not look into your complaint if it happened more than 12 months ago, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

We advise making your complaint in writing using any designated forms provided by the ombudsman. However, you may also be able to email and phone the ombudsman about your complaint.

The ombudsman you contact will differ depending on which region you live in.

Complain to the Clinical Commissioning Group

You can contact your local clinical commissioning group (CCG) for complaints about secondary care, such as hospital care, mental health services, out-of-hours services, NHS 111 and community services like district nursing, for example.

Every CCG will have its own complaints procedure, which is often displayed on its website. Find contact details for CCGs.