Unhappy about your GP service?
How to complain if you're unhappy with your GP or GP surgery
We all have the right to good health care. If you’re unhappy with your GP or GP surgery, you can complain to them directly, or to the NHS in your region.
1 Complain to your GP surgery
Your feedback is important in making sure that the NHS provides the best service it can. Some problems can be dealt with on the spot if you’re comfortable raising them informally with staff.
If you’d like to complain, ask for a copy of the surgery’s complaints procedure, and use this to help you.
Keep a record of who you speak or write to, and on what date. If you raise your complaint verbally, make sure you write down everything you discuss.
Included in your formal complaint should be the following:
- What or who you’re complaining about
- What happened and when
- What you’d like to be done to resolve your complaint
- How to contact you
The NHS Constitution says that you have a right to have your complaint properly investigated. Your complaint should be acknowledged within three working days, and you should also be told about the outcome of the investigation.
If you’ve been harmed by negligent treatment, you have a right to compensation.
To have your complaint investigated, you usually need to complain within 12 months of the event happening, or as soon as you first become aware of the issue you want to complain about.
The time limit can be extended in special circumstances.
Make sure you ask for a copy of your surgery's complaints procedure and be sure to follow it. This is the best way to ensure your complaint will be dealt with promptly and appropriately.
2 Contact the NHS in your region
Depending on where you live in the UK, the NHS complaints process may be slightly different.
If you don't want to complain directly to your GP surgery, you need to contact the NHS in your region:
- If you live in England you can complain to NHS England
- Find out how to make a complaint in Scotland
- Find out how to make a complaint in Wales
- Find out how to make a complaint in Northern Ireland
3 Get help with your complaint
NHS Advocacy can give you free, confidential and independent support with making your complaint. The service is provided by your local authority.
To find contact information in your local area, contact your local authority’s customer services department.
Your local Healthwatch can also signpost you to organisations that can help with your complaint.
If you're not happy with the way in which your GP practice has dealt with your complaint, you can refer it to the ombudsman to investigate further.
4 Complain to the Ombudsman
If you're unhappy with the final response from your GP practice you can take your complaint to the ombudsman.
The ombudsman is independent of the NHS and free to use. It can help resolve your complaint, and tell the NHS how to put things right if it has got them wrong.
The ombudsman only has legal powers to investigate certain complaints. You must have received a final response from your GP practice before the ombudsman can look at your complaint.
The ombudsman will generally not look into your complaint if it happened more than 12 months ago, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
We advise making your complaint in writing using any designated forms provided by the ombudsman. However, you may also be able to email and phone the ombudsman about your complaint.
5 Contact the correct ombudsman
The ombudsman you contact will differ depending on which region you live in.
- England Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO)
- Scotland Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO)
- Wales Public Services Ombudsman for Wales (PSOW)
- Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Ombudsman (NIO)
Letter templates are available from: http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/letter
Gp complaint letter template is available at: http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/letter?utf8=%E2%9C%93&letter_category=complain&subtopic=397713
Problems with private healthcare
If you have a problem with your private healthcare provider or have an issue with your medical insurer, you may be able to seek redress. Read our guides to find out how to navigate the complaints processes for private healthcare providers.
- How to complain about your private healthcare provision
- I have a problem with my private healthcare provider
Long term Care:
If you’re unhappy with your or your relative’s care provider, you have the right to complain but this can be difficult. Our guides help you understand your rights and explain what you can do to resolve the situation amicably.
- What long term care am I entitled to?
- How do I challenge a local authority or NHS care assessment?
- How to complain about a care home
FYI: The top ten letters on the which website are as follows:
Letter to reclaim PPI for free
Reclaiming Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) can be a quick and easy process. Use our template letter to send to your financial provider to get your money back.
- Letter to request compensation for a delayed flight
Take action as soon as possible using this template letter, designed to help you claim compensation from your airline.
Letter to ask for a faulty item to be repaired or replaced
Under the Consumer Rights Act a retailer has a duty to repair or replace faulty goods. Use this template letter to get a replacement or repair.
- Letter of notice for maternity leave and pay
Use this Which? letter to notify your work about when you wish to take maternity leave.
Letter to get a refund if your item is faulty
If you have bought a faulty item, or an item that has developed a fault, you have the right under the Consumer Rights Act to ask for refund.
- Letter before small claims court claim
Want to get your money back from a company? You may be considering the small claims court. If so, a letter before claim must be sent to the party you're taking to court. Use this Which? template letter to help you.
- Letter to request damaged goods be replaced
If you receive a parcel that contains damaged goods, the seller is responsible for replacing them and for covering the cost of return postage.
Letter to demand outstanding rent from a tenant
You can demand any rent back from a tenant that is left owing, as long as it has been at least eight weeks. Use this template letter to do so.
- Letter to claim compensation for poor restaurant service
You shouldn't have to pay for poor restaurant service. Use this letter template to claim compensation.