Complaints against the NHS
Produced in partnership with Andrew Ritchie QC of 9 Gough Square
Complaints against the NHS

The following PI & Clinical Negligence guidance note Produced in partnership with Andrew Ritchie QC of 9 Gough Square provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Complaints against the NHS
  • The NHS complaints procedure
  • Relevant legislation
  • Complaints procedure, stage 1—local resolution
  • Complaints procedure, stage 2—independent review by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
  • Mediation
  • Private patients–no NHS procedure
  • The Care Quality Commission

The NHS complaints procedure

A patient’s search for a proper explanation about what went wrong, for an apology and for a promise that such mistakes will not be repeated is often more important than compensation. Complaints may concern errors in diagnosis, poor communication from doctors, delay, misleading advice and many other forms of poor treatment or lack of treatment.

The starting point is the NHS complaints procedure. Legal aid funding (where applicable) may be denied if the complaints procedure has not been used first without good reason. This procedure covers complaints made in relation to services provided or paid for by NHS organisations or primary care practitioners, ie hospitals, GPs, dentists, opticians and pharmacists. There are two stages to the procedure:

  1. local resolution; and

  2. independent review

If financial compensation is sought a patient will need to seek advice from a clinical negligence solicitor. Solicitors who are accredited members of the Law Society’s clinical negligence panel or the Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) panel and hold a franchise, can seek legal aid if the complainant is eligible. For further details on the very limited circumstances where legal aid is available in clinical negligence claims see Practice Note Legal Aid Agency funding of clinical negligence cases.

For further information about making a negligence claim for compensation, see Practice Notes: The pre-action protocol for the