House of Commons Library

NHS Complaints Procedures in England

Published Monday, April 10, 2017

This House of Commons Library briefing paper provides information on NHS complaints procedures in England.

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The standard two-stage NHS complaints procedure, where complaints are first raised locally and with the option of referral to the Health Service Ombudsman, can be used for most complaints about NHS services.  It is designed to provide explanations of what happened and, where appropriate, apologies and information about action taken to ensure similar incidents do not happen again.

However, other options may also be appropriate in some cases depending on the objective of the complaint, such as obtaining an apology, compensation, disciplinary action, a change in policy, or a clarification of the law.

A section at the end of this briefing paper lists some of the organisations that can provide help and advice to patients who wish to make a complaint about NHS services.

It is important to note that some care services are provided by local authority social services departments. Complaints about these services are outside the scope of this briefing paper, but further information is available from the Local Government Ombudsman website.

Procedures for NHS staff to raise concerns are covered in a separate Commons Library briefing paper, NHS whistleblowing procedures in England (SN06490).

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7168

Authors: Tom Powell; Elizabeth Parkin; Andrew Mackley

Topic: Patient rights and complaints

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