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The role of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman considers complaints about government departments, a range of other public bodies in the UK, and the NHS in England. The ombudsman investigates whether these organisations have acted properly or fairly, or have provided a poor service.

Bringing a complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

The ombudsman independently investigates complaints and can look at complaints about hospitals, GPs, dentists, pharmacists, opticians, nurses, ambulances, and others providing NHS services.

Complaints about government organisations must be referred to the ombudsman by an MP. You can find your local MP on the UK Parliament website or contact the House of Commons Information Office on 020 7219 4272.

The ombudsman does not investigate complaints about councils. These are investigated by the Local Government Ombudsman, who can be contacted on 0300 061 0614.

How to make a complaint

Try to resolve the complaint with the relevant organisation yourself. The ombudsman only acts after the organisation has been given a chance to respond and act to make amends (if appropriate).

You can download a complaint form from the ombudsman's website. Alternatively, you can contact the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman helpline about your complaint on 0345 015 4033. The helpline is open from 8.30am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday.

Once your complaint is received, you should get written confirmation of receipt within two working days. You will be given a reference number, which should be quoted in any future contact with the ombudsman.

The ombudsman will look at whether they can handle the complaint (whether it comes within the ombudsman's legal powers). You do not have an automatic right for your complaint to be investigated, but you will be given reasons for the decision if they decide not to do so.


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Page last reviewed: 09/04/2014

Next review due: 09/04/2016

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