NHS England has high expectations of quality in all that it does. We hope to resolve any problems without resort to this formal process, but where a complaint is felt necessary, we will do everything we can to respond well.
The complaints process
NHS England considers a complaint to be any expression of dissatisfaction with a service we provide. This might arise from the actions of a member of staff, or from an area or programme of work carried out by NHS England.
If you have a complaint concerning the treatment or service provided by the NHS, please refer to the NHS choices website.
Complaints NHS England receive
NHS England expects most complaints to be in response to previous correspondence.
Complaints are varied and may relate to:
- the quality and accuracy of information provided in our earlier responses;
- the tone of our correspondence or the attitude of our staff; or
- the handling and timeliness of the individual’s correspondence.
If a complaint is received, NHS England will try to resolve it at local level by the person who originally dealt with correspondence. If the issue is not resolved at this level, it is usually escalated to a line manager or team leader. If the correspondence between both parties continues and the complaint has not been resolved, then it will be referred to the complaints manager.
The correspondence will include an explanation of the procedure for making an official complaint to NHS England, via the complaints manager.
When to raise a formal complaint
If you have tried to resolve your complaint at local level and this has failed, you can register an official complaint to NHS England via the complaints manager. You have several options for doing this:
PO Box 16738
With ‘For the attention of the complaints manager’ in the subject line.
0300 311 22 33 (Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm, excluding English Bank Holidays)
We will take a note of your complaint and arrange for it to be passed to the complaints manager.
What you need to provide
Provide as much information as possible to allow NHS England to investigate your complaint. Include some or all of the following:
- your name and a valid email or home address for reply;
- a clear description of your complaint;
- copies of earlier associated correspondence between yourself and NHS England; and
- any valid correspondence case reference numbers.
NHS England aim to respond to all complaints within 20 working days. If we are unable to reply within this time, we will let you know and provide a realistic estimate of when you can expect a reply.
What we do next?
Where the complainant has provided an email address, NHS England will send an automatic acknowledgement on the same day the complaint is recorded. This acknowledgement will explain the intention to respond within 20 working days.
Investigate the complaint
The complaints manager investigates. This involves a thorough review of all relevant correspondence NHS England has received and sent to the complainant in relation to the complaint. It may also involve liaising with policy officials, correspondence officers or third parties.
The complaints manager will form an opinion of whether the complainant’s original complaint was handled well. The manager will consider whether the complainant’s questions were answered and whether they suffered any kind of injustice or hardship because of NHS England’s service.
To quote the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), the outcome of handling the complaint should be to provide a “fair and proportionate” remedy. NHS England’s complaints manager endeavours to meet this goal.
If you are not content with the complaints manager’s reply, the next step is to escalate your complaint to the PHSO.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
London SW1P 4QP
0845 015 4033
Details of how to contact the PHSO will be included in the complaint manager’s reply.
The PHSO undertakes independent investigations into complaints alleging that government departments and other public bodies in the UK, including NHS England, have not acted properly or fairly or have provided a poor service.
The Parliamentary Ombudsman (or Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration) has the same powers as a court of law. NHS England therefore has a legal duty to co-operate fully with any inquiry or investigation that the PHSO carries out in relation to a complaint and to provide any relevant documents.
If you are unhappy with the Ombudsman’s decision, you can appeal directly to the PHSO. Details of how to do this can be found on the PHSO’s website. Once the Ombudsman or one of their senior staff has considered the complaint and sent a response, their decision is final. They will acknowledge any further correspondence but unless you raise new issues that they consider significant, they will not send further replies.
If you are still unhappy with the outcome, you can submit an application for judicial review, usually within three months of the decision.