How to complain about NHS care

I was very happy with the effect that making my complaint has had. I feel more confident about speaking up for myself.

Michelle, who used our services

You can get free information and support from us to help you use the NHS complaints process.

NHS complaints self-help toolkit

Below you’ll find information to help you make your complaint yourself.

The information on the above pages is also available in print or PDF, in standard and Easy Read formats. To get a copy, call us on 0300 3030 1600 or email helpline@voiceability.org with your name and address.

On request, we can also send you these resources to help you with your complaint:

  • a guide and template for writing a complaint letter
  • a log sheet for tracking the progress of your complaint
  • a consent form for complaining on behalf of someone else

Who can support me with making a complaint?

Patient Advice Liaison Service (PALS)

You’ll find a Patient Advice and Liaison Service in most hospitals. Sometimes it’s called PILS’ instead, or just the complaints team’. PALS is a service set up by the NHS that can help you resolve issues informally with the hospital. A complaint made through PALS will not usually count as a formal complaint’.

Contacting PALS can be particularly helpful if your issue is urgent and you need action immediately, such as a problem with the treatment or care you receive while in hospital. 

As well as helping people raise concerns, PALS teams also:

  • offer information and advice about local health services
  • feed back patients’ views to senior managers

To find the contact details for your local PALS, ask your hospital or search online for NHS PALS’.

Advocacy

Anyone who wants to complain about the NHS has the right to support from an advocate. 

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 will support you to do as much as you can for yourself. They 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. Visit the NHS complaints advocacy’ page below to find out more.