Sorting out a problem with healthcare

NHS care is usually very good and most people don’t have any problems. But occasionally things can go wrong. Find out how to complain about healthcare services.
young female adult

We know that making a complaint about NHS services can be confusing. But getting care right for you is important. And your feedback can help the NHS improve care for others.

Step one - speak to the organisation

If there's a problem with the care you've had - try and sort it out informally with the healthcare provider first. And give them a chance to fix things. 

Healthcare services are provided by a range of different organisations. From large NHS trusts such as Cambridge University Hospitals who run Addenbrooke's and the Rosie, to smaller services like GPs and dentists.  

  • At your GP surgery you can ask to speak to the Practice Manager
  • For dentists or pharmacists, you can ask to speak to a more senior manager 
  • For each of the local NHS Trusts there is a Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) who are there to help you sort out any problems.  Find out more

Step two - formal complaint

If you are not happy after you have spoken to the organisation, then the next step is to make a formal complaint. 

Every organisation has a complaints procedure and they should give you guidance and support in following the process.

Ask the healthcare provider for a copy of their complaints procedure. 

For help making a complaint

Take a look at some our practical resources to help you make a complaint about NHS health and social care services.

Find out more

Speaking to regulators

If you think a health professional was negligent or you experienced misconduct, you can contact their regulatory body. Find out more

You can also speak to The Care Quality Commission (CQC). They regulate and inspect all health and care services.  You can tell them about a problem with a service.

But if you want to complain about a service - you must also raise this with the organisation who provided your care. 

03000 616161


Changing your healthcare provider

Making a formal complaint will not impact on any future care you receive.

But sometimes you may feel happier changing to a new healthcare provider. 

If you want to change your GP surgery after making a complaint - you can find out more about this on the NHS website. Find out more

Talk to your GP about changing other healthcare providers. 

Step 3 - if you are not happy with the response

If you are unhappy with the outcome of your complaint, contact the Parliamentary and Health OmbudsmanFind out more

For legal advice, speak to Action Against Medical Accident (AvMA) who may be able to help. Find out more.

Getting help to make a complaint

Voiceability Cambridgeshire and Peterborough provides a free and independent advocacy service to support people with concerns about the NHS. 

An advocate can support you to be heard. And help you understand your rights and choices.

0300 222 5704


Last checked 09 Sept 2020

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