Visitors' FAQ

How are health services regulated in England?

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulates most health and adult social care services in England, including those provided by the NHS, local authorities, private companies or voluntary organisations. It also protects the interests of people detained under the Mental Health Act.

The Accredited Register programme provides a layer of protection for anyone looking for health and care services not regulated by statute.

Visit our health regulators section for an overview of some of the health watchdogs and authorities overseeing health and social care in England.

How are healthcare professionals regulated in England?

Anyone practising one of the regulated professions is required by law to be registered with the appropriate regulatory body. The purpose of the professional regulators is to protect and promote the safety of the public.

They do this by setting standards of behaviour, education and ethics that health professionals must meet. They deal with concerns about professionals who are unfit to practise because of poor health, misconduct or poor performance.

Regulators register health professionals who are fit to practise in the UK, and can remove a professional from the register and stop them practising if it's in the interests of public safety.

Overview of the healthcare professions regulators in England:

If you think an NHS practitioner or social services employee has been guilty of professional misconduct, you can complain to their professional or regulatory body. For more advice, read the section about professional misconduct.

Who oversees the work of healthcare professions regulators?

The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care promotes the health, safety and wellbeing of patients, service users and the public by raising standards of regulation and encouraging the voluntary registration of people working in health and care. It is an independent body accountable to the UK parliament.

The Professional Standards Authority is committed to being independent, impartial, fair, accessible and consistent.

How do I complain about an NHS service?

Most medical care and treatment goes well, but things occasionally go wrong and you may want to complain. So where do you start? If you wish to make a complaint about an NHS organisation, contact them directly first.

If you're not sure where to start or how to get in touch with an NHS body or independent regulator, visit the how to complain section, which offers you detailed information about the NHS complaints procedure.

Rate and comment on NHS services, including hospitals, GPs, dentists and mental health trusts. You can give your views about the care that you, a friend or family member received.

Patient feedback helps you make informed decisions about health services, and encourages healthcare providers to assess their services and make changes where necessary.

How can I find services?

This section has comprehensive directories of NHS services in England. More than 300 national directories give details of everything from hospitals, GPs and dentists to care services, gyms, addiction support and services for specific conditions.

All you have to do is select the type of service you are looking for and enter a postcode, location or organisation name. Each service profile will offer you information such as contact details, facilities and hospital accessibility for people with disabilities. For some NHS services you can also see how well your local area is performing against national standards.


Page last reviewed: 18/08/2015

Next review due: 18/08/2017

How do I get in touch with the national contact point (NCP) for England?

The NCP is run by NHS England. If you are visiting England from another EEA country and have a question about healthcare in England, please call 0300 311 22 33 (Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm, excluding English Bank Holidays) or email

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