If you’re not happy with the care or treatment you’ve received or you’ve been refused treatment for a condition, you have the right to complain, have your complaint investigated, and be given a full and prompt reply. You can raise a concern or make a complaint in writing, by email, over the telephone or in person.

Most issues can be resolved without you having to make a formal complaint. Try having an informal chat with your doctor or a member of staff first. A formal complaint takes time and minor issues are resolved quicker if you just speak to a person on site. For example, if you have problems booking a GP appointment speak to the practice manager about it. If you are worried about something during your hospital outpatient appointment talk to one of the nurses or the clinic manager.

NHS England calls this informal process ‘local resolution’ and urges everyone to see if things can be solved there and then before they escalate to a real problem. 

However, if despite everything this doesn’t solve your problem, or even if it does but you would still like to make a formal complaint, you should ask to see the complaints procedure and follow the instructions on how to make a complaint.

Make your complaint as soon as possible. In the NHS, complaints should normally be made within 12 months of the date of the event that you’re complaining about, or as soon as the matter first came to your attention.

The time limit can sometimes be extended (so long as it’s still possible to investigate the complaint). An extension might be possible, for instance in situations where it would have been difficult for you to complain earlier, for example, when you were grieving or undergoing trauma.

Making a complaint about a health or social care service can be complicated. You can either complain to the provider directly – such as a GP, a dentist surgery, care home – or to the commissioner of the services, which is the body that pays for the services you use. You cannot apply to both. In Waltham Forest, the majority of Health Services are commissioned by Waltham Forest and East London Clinical Commissioning Group and the majority of Social Care Services are commissioned by Waltham Forest Council. 

You may find the following links useful

Tips and tools to help you make a complaint about health services
Tips and tools to help you make a complaint about adult social care services
Complaints about GPs
NHS dentist complaints
Complaints about other NHS services
Waltham Forest Council complaints information
NHS Hospital complaints
Mental Health Services complaints
Feedback and complaints about the NHS