Asking for advice or raising complaints and concerns with us

We can help with some complaints directly. In other cases, we can help direct you to the organisation that may be able to help you.

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Patient choice

If your complaint is about patient choice, we may be able to help you directly. Please email us at enquiries@improvement.nhs.uk and we will see if we can help.

The NHS Constitution says that patients have the right to choose any NHS provider (that is clinically appropriate) for their first consultant-led outpatient appointment.

You also have the right to be offered an alternative provider if you have not received a consultant-led outpatient appointment within 18 weeks of a referral from your GP.

We will acknowledge your enquiry within 2 days and contact you within 10 working days to provide advice or let you know how we intend to proceed.

NHS staff concerns (whistleblowing)

If you work in the NHS – or for any organisation relevant to our role – and have serious concerns that you can’t raise within your organisation, you can contact us at enquiries@improvement.nhs.uk as a whistleblower.

In general, we cannot resolve individual cases, but we will use information from whistleblowers to consider, primarily, whether they raise wider governance concerns about how a trust is being run by its board.

You can find out more information about the types of concern you can raise with us and how we will consider your concern in our raising concerns (whistleblowing) policy for NHS staff.

Commissioners and providers of healthcare services

Procurement, patient choice and competition

Part of our role is to make sure that procurement, patient choice and competition operate in the best interests of patients and to step in if anti-competitive behaviour by NHS commissioners or providers goes against patients’ interests. Commissioners’ obligations in relation to procurement and patient choice are set out in the Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition Regulations and the Standing Rules Regulations.

We can provide advice about these obligations and investigate complaints when commissioners or providers are restricting patient choice or behaving anti-competitively.

We will acknowledge your enquiry within 3 days and contact you within 10 working days to provide advice or let you know how we intend to proceed.

Examples of advice we have given are:

  • a patient contacted us because they did not feel they were being treated quickly enough; we were able to advise them of the choices available to access quicker treatment
  • a commissioner contacted us to discuss their plans for a prime contractor and we advised them how the rules applied to those plans
  • a provider contacted us with concerns about a commissioner’s conduct and we advised them about the rules relating to conflicts of interests.

To raise a procurement or patient choice issue please contact us at enquiries@improvement.nhs.uk.

Governance of NHS trusts and foundation trusts

If you make a complaint to us about an NHS trust or foundation trust, we will consider whether it could signal underlying problems with how the trust is run. If so, we will consider what further work we need to do to verify whether underlying problems exist and how we can support the trust to fix them.

Integrated care in the NHS

Providers of NHS care have an obligation to not stand in the way of care being delivered in an integrated way. If you think a healthcare provider may have breached these obligations, we will use the information you provide to decide whether or not to look at the more general behaviour of the provider. For more detailed information about integrated care see our guidance.

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