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Your rights under the NHS

Under the NHS Constitution, you have the right to make a complaint about any aspect of NHS care, treatment or services.

You have the right to:

  • have any complaint you make about NHS services acknowledged within three working days and to have it properly investigated.
  • discuss the manner in which the complaint is to be handled, and to know the period within which the investigation is likely to be completed and the response sent.
  • be kept informed of progress and to know the outcome of any investigation into your complaint, including an explanation of the conclusions and confirmation that any action needed in consequence of the complaint has been taken or is proposed to be taken.
  • take your complaint to the independent Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman or Local Government Ombudsman, if you are not satisfied with the way your complaint has been dealt with by the NHS.
  • make a claim for judicial review if you think you have been directly affected by an unlawful act or decision of an NHS body or local authority.
  • compensation where you have been harmed by negligent treatment.

The NHS also pledges to:

  • ensure that you are treated with courtesy and you receive appropriate support throughout the handling of a complaint; and that the fact that you have complained will not adversely affect your future treatment
  • ensure that when mistakes happen or if you are harmed while receiving healthcare you receive an appropriate explanation and apology, delivered with sensitivity and recognition of the trauma you have experienced, and know that lessons will be learned to help avoid a similar incident occurring again
  • ensure that the organisation learns lessons from complaints and claims and uses these to improve NHS services

Patients should always complain about the service they receive because the NHS uses feedback from patients to improve services.

There are two ways to let the NHS know how you feel – giving feedback via the Friends and Family Test (FFT) and making a complaint.


Date updated: 20.04.21 (V1.1)
Review date: 18.05.21

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