You can get support to make your complaint from an Independent NHS Complaints Advocacy Service. They are independent of the NHS and will provide free support all the way through the process if you need it. They can help you write a letter and attend a meeting with you or explain the options available to you.
The Independent NHS Complaints Advocacy Service consists of different organisations commissioned by your local authority. This means you could have a different advocacy service to someone else who lives in a different area. All the services are free.
To find out about your local Independent NHS Complaints Advocacy Service you need to contact your local council or local Healthwatch.
The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)
If your complaint is about an NHS hospital, you can contact your local Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS).
PALS will try to help you resolve issues informally with the hospital before you need to make a complaint. PALS can be particularly helpful if your issue is urgent and you need action immediately.
Their advice is confidential and they can help you with health-related questions, help resolve concerns or problems when you’re using the NHS and tell you how to get more involved in your own healthcare.
They can also give you information about the NHS, the NHS complaints procedure, including how to get independent help if you want to make a complaint and support groups outside the NHS.
If your complaint is not resolved with the help of PALS your next step is to complain to the healthcare provider or the commissioner.
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO)
If you are not happy with the way your complaint was dealt with you can complain to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO). Their service is free.
The PHSO make final decisions on complaints that have not been sorted out by the NHS in England and UK government departments and some other UK public organisations. They are independent from the NHS and look at complaints fairly and without taking sides.
Find out more about how to make a complaint to the PHSO
You can also call their Customer Helpline on 0345 015 4033 from 8:30am to 5:30pm, Monday to Friday, except bank holidays.
Other services that can help you
Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)
Your local CAB will be able to offer support and advice on how to complain.
Read more about CAB and NHS complaints
NHS Choices has information on how to complain, who to complain to, what to expect and about advocacy services.
Read more about NHS Choices and complaining
Date updated: 20/04/21 (V1.1)
Review date: 18/05/21
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