How to complain about medical treatment

How to complain about medical treatment

advice about how to complainThe following information tells you how to complain about medical treatment.

We can help you through the complaints procedure free of charge or on a no win, no fee basis. It can be less stressful having help from a specialist solicitor with the complaints process.

However, if you are a reasonable letter writer it is best to draft something in your own words, then we can look it over for you before you send it off.

Against your GP/Dentist/Optician/Pharmacist

Most care providers have information about how complaints can be made. The first thing for you to do would be to contact your care provider and ask for this information. The complaints procedure will probably deal with both verbal and written complaints. However, it is best to make a written complaint and keep a copy for your own records.

The care provider should then investigate and provide a written response, or offer a meeting to resolve the complaint, within 10 working days of your complaint being made. If you do not hear from them within 10 days, chase it up and keep a record of who you spoke to and when if you telephone, rather than writing. If your complaint is going to take longer than 10 working days to investigate then the care provider should  inform you of this.

The written response you receive should include an explanation of what happened and may offer you a meeting.

If the care provider does invite you to attend a meeting you should take someone with you and make notes of what is said. You do not have to attend a meeting if you do  not feel comfortable. You can ask for your complaint to be dealt with by way of written response only.

If you send your complaints correspondence to us we can then advise you whether the matter should be pursued any further.

An NHS Hospital

Within 6 months of your injury, or within 6 months of you realising that you may have suffered some injury, you can ask the Hospital for the name of the Patient Representative/Complaints Co-ordinator and put your complaint in writing to them (keep a copy of your letter for your records). If you are invited to attend a meeting take someone with you who can make notes of what is said and do ask for written confirmation of what the Hospital is saying after the meeting.

The National Health Service (Logo)

Most hospital Trusts now have a department called PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service). PALS will help you with putting your complaint to the Hospital if you wish. Their role is to provide information, advice and support to patients and their families. You can search for your local PALS office here.

Private Care
Complain directly to the Hospital/Practitioner concerned. It is best to do this in writing and keep a copy of your letter for your records. If you are not satisfied with the response the only option in respect of private care is to complain to the General Medical Council (see below) or take legal action.

A Nursing Home

As for GP complaint above and your local Primary Care Trust may assist you with the complaint if you wish.

Help with a complaint  from the Independent Complaints Advocacy Service (ICAS)
The Department of Health has set up local ICAS offices to help people with complaints about the NHS. They can help you with a complaint letter and accompany you to a meeting. However, they cannot assist all over the country so if you find they cannot help you please get in touch and we will assist or find you assistance locally.

Local ICAS numbers are as follows:

North East
Yorkshire and Humberside
North West
West Midlands
South West
Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire
Cambridge, Norfolk and Suffolk
South East
East Midlands

0845 120 3732
0845 120 3734
0845 120 3735
0845 120 3748
0845 120 3782
0845 120 3784
0845 456 1082
0845 456 1083
0845 456 1084
0845 600 8616
0845 650 0088

Further Steps after an NHS Complaint
The Healthcare Commission, Commission for Social Care Inspection and the Mental Health Act Commission ceased to exist on 31 March 2009. The Care Quality Commission is the new health and social care regulator for England. The web address is

You can take your complaint further with The Care Quality Commission if you are not happy with the response to your complaint that was made directly to the medical care provider.

Health Service Ombudsman
You can write to the Ombudsman within 12 months of realising you have a complaint. The Ombudsman can extend this time limit in certain circumstances but this is entirely at the Ombudsman’s discretion.

The contact details are:

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (logo)
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,
Millbank Tower, Millbank,
London SW1 4QP.

You would need to complete a Complaints form and this can be printed off from the internet (or you can telephone for a form 0845 015 4033)

The General Medical Council (“GMC”)
The GMC can investigate any complaint they receive about a doctor, whether it comes from a member of the public, from another Doctor or from a Public Authority and every complaint is considered carefully.

The GMC cannot award compensation but they can take action ranging from a warning letter to, in the most serious cases, restricting or removing the Doctor’s right to practice medicine. In the first instance, you should write to the GMC at Fitness to Practice Directorate, General Medical Council, St James’ Building, 79 Oxford Street, Manchester, M1 6FQ, giving them as much information as you can, together with the full name and address of the Doctor and the full names and addresses of all your friends and relatives who can support your complaint from their own personal knowledge.

Your letter should give the GMC sufficient information to initially screen your complaint and decide whether it is a matter appropriate for them to pursue.

There is no time limit for making a complaint and you do not need to have a Solicitor for making a complaint to the GMC.

If you wish the Doctor involved to know that you are making a complaint to the GMC then you should make that clear in your initial letter to the GMC. Otherwise, they will not let the Doctor know immediately. On the other hand, you may make a decision that you wish to keep the matter from the Doctor concerned until the GMC have looked at it initially. This is entirely a matter for you.

If the GMC decide your complaint should be taken further they will then ask you to make a sworn written Statement to support your complaint and at that stage, you may wish to come back to me to assist you in this respect. I may have to raise a charge to you for this service because I would have to put your Statement and letter to the GMC in a suitable form together with any other information that may be helpful. You would then need to take your Statement to another Solicitor to be sworn which would cost a minimum of £5.00 plus £2.00 for each exhibit attached to the Statement.

About Medical Solicitors

Our friendly team of specialist lawyers at Medical Solicitors have the expertise to help you succeed in a medical negligence claim for compensation if you have suffered from poor care.

Compensation can be claimed where there has been inappropriate advice given concerning treatment options and the risks and benefits of the various options, where there have been excessive delays in providing you with treatment, or where there has been substandard care that amounts to actual Medical Negligence. 

Do contact our friendly team of specialist lawyers at Medical Solicitors. We conduct most of our Clinical and Medical Negligence claims under ‘No Win, No Fee’ agreements, also known as Conditional Fee Agreements. So, you do not have to worry about how you are going to afford to bring a medical negligence compensation claim. You have nothing to lose in speaking to us.

Follow our links below to quickly access our information pages about how we can help with Inquests, funding a medical negligence claim and more:

Contact our Expert Medical & Clinical Negligence Lawyers

We provide urgent legal advice and support for patients anywhere in England & Wales. We have doctors and barristers located all over the UK, who provide us with meeting facilities, in London, Birmingham, Sheffield, Yorkshire, Oxford, Manchester, Leeds, Hull, Liverpool, Newcastle and beyond. Our team will travel to see clients. We think it best to see our clients in the comfort of their own home over a cup of tea. You are not a number to us. Call or email our friendly team free of charge for specialist legal advice on a no win no fee basis today.

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