It is important to be aware that a complaint and a claim are very different things. Click here to find out more about the differences.

The NHS Constitution sets out your rights as an NHS patient. These rights cover how a patient accesses health services, the quality of care you should receive as a patient, the treatments and programmes available to you, the rules on confidentiality, and your right to complain if things go wrong (even if no harm was done).

The NHS has a formal complaints procedure. The procedure covers any service that is provided by or funded by the NHS, such as care given by your GP, Hospital, Dentist, Optician, Pharmacist or Ambulance Service. It does not cover privately funded treatment.

If you need to make a complaint about the standard of care you have received from the NHS, the NHS Constitution gives you the following rights:

  • To have your complaint acknowledged within 3 working days and for it to be properly investigated
  • To discuss the way your complaint will be handled and to be kept informed of progress
  • To take your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) if you are not satisfied with the way your complaint has been handled
  • To compensation where you have been harmed by negligent treatment

To make a complaint you should write to the organisation or doctor concerned setting out what has happened and identifying what you are complaining about. More detailed information about making a complaint can be found here.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO): The role of the PHSO is to consider complaints about government departments and agencies in the UK and the NHS in England. They investigate complaints that individuals have been treated unfairly or have received poor service.

Before the PHSO can consider a complaint it must have gone through the “local complaint resolution process” described earlier.

PHSO’s aim is to provide an independent, high quality complaint handling service that rights individual wrongs, drives improvements in public services and informs public policy.

For more information you can telephone 0345 015 4033 or visit

Private Medical Treatment: Private medical treatment is not covered by the NHS Constitution or the local process, nor can complaints be dealt with by the PHSO.

If you have a complaint about treatment which you have paid for privately, in the first instance you should make your complaint directly to the private healthcare provider.

The Independent Healthcare Advisory Service represents some but not all independent healthcare providers and has a complaints code of practice which can be accessed via their website.

Right to ComplainTo help you understand whether a claim may be possible and to explain the steps in the process the Clinical Negligence team at TSP have put together a comprehensive guide to Medical Negligence claims.

In the guide you will find detailed information about the different types of Medical Negligence claim and what to do if you believe you or a family member have been a victim of Medical Negligence. The guide also provides useful information about the steps in the Claim Process and the different funding options available.