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When people have a complaint about an NHS service, they can complain to the provider of that service or the Commissioner. 

Complaints Made Direct to NHS England

Tier 1/Tier 2

Any complaint that a complainant wishes to make to NHS England (rather than direct to the practice) goes to a central complaints team via 0300 311 2233 (lines are open Monday to Friday 8.00am – 6.00pm, excluding bank holidays) or by email:

All the details of the complaint will be logged on a national database and if it is a simple query or concern, it will be resolved by the central team.  If, however, it is more complicated and requires investigation, it will be passed (within one working day) to the relevant Area Team.

Tier 3

The Area Team has access to the national database and will take forward the complaint investigation, contact the practice and liaise with the complainant.  They will send the response to the complainant, which will be signed off by the Area Team Managing Director.

If the complainant is unhappy with the response(s), they may go to the Ombudsman, as per usual.

Complaints Made Direct to the Practice

Practices must have arrangements for dealing with complaints in line with ‘The Local Authority Social Services and NHS Complaints (England) Regulations 2009’

The key elements of the Regulations are set out below.

A Practice’s arrangements for dealing with complaints must make sure they are:

A complaint must be made with 12 months of the incident:

The time limit does not apply if:

Procedure before investigation

A complaint may be made orally, in writing or electronically. Where a complaint is made orally, the responsible body to which the complaint is made must:

The complaint must be acknowledged no later than 3 working days after the day on which it is received.

At the time it acknowledges the complaint, the responsible body must offer to discuss with the complainant, at a time to be agreed with the complainant:

If the complainant does not accept the offer of a discussion, the responsible body must:

Investigation and Response

A responsible body to which a complaint is made must:

As soon as reasonably practicable after completing the investigation, the responsible body must send the complainant a response in writing, signed by the responsible person, which includes

If the responsible body does not send the complainant a response in accordance within the relevant period, it must—


Each responsible body must make information available to the public on:


Each responsibile body must monitor:

Annual Reports

Each responsible body must prepare an annual report which specifies the number of complaints:

And which summarises:

The annual report should available to any person on request.


Since 1st April 2013, individual local authorities have a statutory duty to commission independent advocacy services to provide support for people making, or thinking of making, a complaint about their NHS care or treatment. Arrangements will vary between local authority areas. Contact your local complaints manager (see below for contacts) or local authority for information about how this service is provided in your area. 

NHS England – Wessex Area Team: Costin Matei: 02380 725492 or

NHS England – BGSW Area Team: Jenny Kirkby: 01138 253491 or

Healthwatch Hampshire Contacts:

Healthwatch Portsmouth (Portsmouth only)

3 St George's Business Centre

St George's Square




Telephone:   023 9397 7079



Healthwatch Southampton (City)

The Voluntary Action Centre

Kingsland Square


SO14 1NW

Telephone: 02380 216 018




Healthwatch Hampshire

Westgate Chambers

Staple Gardens


SO23 8SR

Telephone:    01962 440 262


Healthwatch Dorset Contacts:

Dorset Advocacy Service (whole of Dorset)

Unit 13-15

Jubilee Court

Paceycombe Way



Telephone:    0300 343 7000




Further Information

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman 

Obudsman, Tips for General Practice

BMA Guide on NHS Complaints (England only) 

MDDU Essential guide to complaint handling in primary care

NHS.UK - How to complain to the NHS

RCN Publication - Good practice for handling feedback. RCN guidance on handling and learning from comments, concerns and complaints.


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Updated on 17 September 2019 1637 views