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NHS Complaints

Advice about the NHS Complaints Procedure

In cases where treatment has been provided under the National Health Service, before legal action is begun, it is sometimes advisable for clients to pursue a complaint through the NHS Complaints Procedure.  The Legal Services Commission encourages people to use this system as an alternative to litigation and sometimes recommends that a complaint be explored in order to establish/clarify a situation and help the client obtain information about what happened and why.

Complaints can also be used to help improve services. Where failures have been identified, changes can be made to help ensure the same thing does not happen again.

We can offer information and advice about the NHS Complaints Procedure. We can also help you pursue your complaint through the NHS Complaints Procedure.


The NHS Complaints Procedure

The NHS Complaints Procedure is designed to resolve any problems quickly and efficiently and to the complainant's satisfaction. 

There are two parts to the procedure: Local Resolution and Independent Review.  It is hoped that most complaints can be resolved within the Local Resolution stage, but some go on to an Independent Review.

You do not have a right to an Independent Review, but if your complaint has not been resolved within Local Resolution, you may request an Independent Review.  Your request will be considered by a Convener and an Independent Lay Chair and a decision will be made to either: convene an Independent Review Panel; refuse a panel, or to refer your complaint back for further Local Resolution. You have the right to complain to the Care Quality Commission but there are limits to what it can investigate.


How to Make a Complaint

All NHS Trusts and Health Authorities have to provide information to all patients about their right to complain, and provide advice about how to use the complaints procedure, and what help is available to complainants.  If you have any difficulty in obtaining information you should contact your local Health Authority.  Though you do not have to make your complaint in writing, it is usually best to do so.


Who can help?

We can help you to make your complaint or you can obtain help from the Independent Complaints Advocacy Service (ICAS).  

AvMA - Action Against Medical Accidents can also provide you with information about how to proceed with your case.  Click on this link to find out further information about  AvMA.

The AvMA website provides very useful information about the Complaints Procedure and details of your local ICAS office.



Sternberg Reed Solicitors, Focal House, 12/18 Station Parade, Barking, Essex IG11 8DN
Tel: 020 8591 3366; Fax: 020 8594 4606; Email: