How to make a complaint or send a compliment to NHS England

NHS England welcomes concerns, compliments and complaints as valuable feedback that can help us learn from experiences and make improvements to services we commission.

The NHS complaints procedure

The NHS has a complaints procedure that is designed to be as patient focused as possible and investigate complaints effectively and efficiently.  It is a two stage process; the first is called Local Resolution.

Local resolution

Who should I complain to? The NHS is made up from numerous different organisations.  It is important to ensure that you direct your complaint to the correct organisation so that your concerns can be investigated properly, however if you do direct it to the wrong organisation they, with your permission, can forward it to the right one.

You can complain to either the Provider or the Commissioner of the health service you are unhappy about.

  • The provider is the organisation that provides the service to you, for instance a GP, dentist, pharmacist or a hospital.
  • NHS England is the commissioner or purchaser of Primary Care i.e GPs, dentists, opticians, pharmacy and some specialised services.
  • Clinical Commissioning Groups commission hospital services, mental health services, out of hours services and 111 services amongst others.

Who can complain? Usually you should make the complaint yourself but you can ask someone else to make your complaint with your permission.

When should I complain? You should make your complaint as soon as possible. The NHS complaint procedure states that you should make your complaint within 12 months of either the event you are complaining about or as soon as the matter came to your attention. This time limit can be extended as long as the complaint can still be satisfactorily investigated so don’t let this prevent you from contacting NHS England about your complaint.

Can I get help to make my complaint? If you would like support in making your complaint NHS Advocacy is a free, confidential service which is totally independent of the NHS.  The service is provided by your local authority.  Please contact us if you would like details of the service in your area, or alternatively, your local authority Customer Services Department would be able to provide you with contact details for your local advocacy provider.

How long will it take? This will depend on what your complaint is about and how complex it is. The NHS complaints regulations do not require complaints to be investigated within a set timescale but instead we will agree an individual timescale with you and the services involved.

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;
  • any relevant correspondence

What do we do next? NHS England aims to acknowledge all complaints no later than the third working day after the day the complaint is received.

Investigate the complaint. The complaint will be investigated and you will receive the findings of that investigation along with an appropriate apology and to understand if any learning or changes will take place as a result of the findings of the investigation.

Contact details

Complaining to NHS England:

By post to:

NHS England
PO Box 16738
B97 9PT

By email to:

Please state: ‘For the attention of the complaints team’ in the subject line.

By telephone: 0300 311 22 33

Our opening hours are:

  • Monday – Tuesday 8am to 6pm
  • Wednesday 9.30 am to 6pm
  • Thursday – Friday 8am to 6pm

We are closed at weekends and bank holidays.

We will take a note of your complaint and arrange for it to be passed to a case officer.

Second stage of the complaints process

If you are not content with our reply, the next step is to ask the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) to review your complaint and how it has been handled.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
Millbank Tower

Telephone: 0345 015 4033


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 and Health Service Ombudsman (or Health Service Commissioner for England) 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.