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NHS complaints advocacy

Get support to make a complaint about an NHS service

Without my advocate, I could never have achieved the outcome I wanted.

Jerome, who met with one of our advocates

NHS complaints advocates support people to complain about the treatment or care that they or a friend or family member have received from an NHS service. This support is available at every stage of the complaints process.

How an advocate can help you

Advocates are independent professionals who are trained to support you. They are on your side and don’t work for the hospital or the NHS.

An advocate can help you to:

  • work out what you want to complain about and the outcome you’re looking for
  • write your own complaint letter and send it to the right people
  • understand the response you get and what to do next

An advocate is not:

  • medically trained
  • able to offer legal advice
  • able to provide advice or tell you what to do
  • a secretary or administrative assistant 

The complaint could be for you, a member of your family or someone you care for.

Your advocate will support you to do as much as you can for yourself. Your advocate cannot make a complaint on your behalf or give you legal or medical advice.

Advocates can sometimes attend complaints resolution meetings with you, if you find it difficult to say what you want.

Advocates help to make sure that the NHS listens to you. This does not mean they will always do what you want them to. But your advocate will be on your side.

When to speak to an advocate

You can use our information to help you make your own complaint.

If you need more support at any point in the complaints process, you can ask for help from an advocate.

Advocates can support you to complain about

  • hospital or GP surgery
  • a dentist
  • a pharmacist
  • an optician
  • an NHS funded care home
  • a specialist service
  • the ambulance service
  • NHS community staff
  • other NHS staff or clinicians

We have helped people to complain about

  • poor treatment or care
  • attitude of staff
  • poor communication
  • waiting times
  • lack of information
  • failure to diagnose a condition

I’m glad that by raising my concerns, care for people at the hospital will improve”

Josephine, who worked with an advocate
Josephine’s story

I contacted VoiceAbility’s advocacy service when I became unhappy with the treatment my husband Isaac received at our local hospital.

Isaac was admitted to hospital because of severe back pains. I realised the ward staff did not know how to care for him because he had dementia and they would not listen to my suggestions. Due to this he refused to take his medication and his dementia worsened. When he was discharged to a care home, I asked for help from VoiceAbility as I wanted to raise my concerns but I did not know how to do this. My advocate explained my options and I chose for us to write a letter of complaint.

The swift letter of response I received from the Trust acknowledged the issues I raised and addressed the resolution I was seeking. Their letter said that they would be training the staff on working with patients with dementia and using a refurbished ward for patients with dementia. I am so glad that by raising my concerns, care for people with dementia in the hospital will improve.”

Download the information on this page