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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

A complainant may wish to make their complaint direct to NHS England and more details of how to do so can be found here .

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 responsible 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.

Covid-19 – GMC Guidance for Doctor Complaints

The GMC has issued guidance for its staff detailing how to take the context created by COVID-19 into account when considering complaints about doctors at COVID-19 specific guidance published for doctor complaints

Advocacy and Healthwatch Hampshire Contacts:

Hampshire Advocacy

Healthwatch Portsmouth 


Healthwatch Southampton (City)


Healthwatch Hampshire


Healthwatch Dorset Contacts:

Healthwatch Dorset


Healthwatch Wiltshire Contacts:


Healthwatch Swindon Contacts:


Healthwatch BaNES Contacts:


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

Nursing in Practice - How to resolve conflict as a nurse



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Updated on Friday, 14 May 2021 2823 views