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Making a complaint

Taking legal action and other forms of complaint

Most complaints about the NHS are resolved locally through the NHS complaints procedure. This page explains your options if you wish to complain about a national service or regulator, and has information on legal action and judicial reviews.

Take legal action 

In some cases, you might consider taking legal action against the NHS or a member of staff, and claiming compensation. Taking legal action against an NHS body or any local authority can be long, costly and complex. It's therefore best to have a solicitor.

If you've been harmed as a result of negligence by an NHS organisation or healthcare professional, you may be able to claim compensation. If you decide to pursue a claim, seek legal advice.

The charity Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA)  provides free specialist advice on legal action, inquests and other procedures when harm may have been caused. Specially trained advisers will help you consider the options available to you after suffering a medical accident. If you wish, they can put you in contact with an accredited specialist solicitor. AvMA also offers support to help patients come to terms with the effects of a medical accident, whether or not clinical negligence is involved.

The Citizens Advice Bureau offers comprehensive guidance on taking legal action, how to find a solicitor, and the costs involved.

The NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) acts on behalf of NHS organisations when negligence claims are made against them. It can't offer advice to individual patients, but the NHSLA website guides you through the practicalities of negligence claims.

The NHSLA participates in mediation and alternative dispute resolution.  

Apply for a judicial review

A judicial review is a procedure that enables you to challenge a decision of an NHS body or the secretary of state for health on the basis that it's unlawful.

A decision might be unlawful if:

  • the decision-maker does not have power to make the decision, or is using their power improperly
  • the decision is irrational
  • the procedure followed by the decision-maker was unfair or biased
  • the decision was in breach of the Human Rights Act
  • the decision breaches European Community (EC) law

More information is available from the Public Law Project.

Judicial review is not a form of appeal. The judge will look at how decisions are made, rather than judging the decision itself.

To be entitled to make a claim for judicial review, you must have a direct, personal interest in the action or decision being challenged. Further guidance on applying for judicial review can be found on the Justice website.


Complain about NHS England

NHS England commissions, plans and pays for primary care services you receive, such as your GP practice, dentists, pharmacists, optical services and some specialised services.

You can make a complaint about an NHS service to NHS England as part of the NHS complaints procedure or make a complaint about NHS England itself.

If you wish to make a complaint about NHS England, write to:

NHS England 
PO Box 16738
B97 9PT

Alternatively, you can email adding ‘For the attention of the complaints manager’ in the subject line.

You can also phone NHS England on 0300 311 22 33 (Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm, excluding Bank Holidays)

For more advice visit the complaints section on NHS England’s website.

Complain to the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England. It also protects the interests of people detained under the Mental Health Act.

See the CQC website for more advice on:

To complain about NHS services follow the NHS complaints procedure. The CQC cannot take up individual complaints about the NHS.

If you wish to complain to the Care Quality Commission, its details are:

CQC National Customer Service Centre
Newcastle upon Tyne

  • Phone: 03000 61 61 61
  • Email: Opening hours: 8.30am – 5:30pm, Monday to Friday

You can also download the leaflet Complaining about the CQC (PDF, 907kb).

Complain about NHS foundation trusts

NHS foundation trusts are hospital or mental health trusts that have been given more independence about the way they're run and funded. Foundation trusts are regulated by Monitor. Monitor has powers to intervene in the running of an NHS foundation trust to safeguard NHS patients and services.

To complain about a foundation trust, follow the NHS complaints procedure first.

You can complain or comment about Monitor by writing to:

Complain about other special health authorities

Blood and transplant services, the regulation of medicines, and decisions about what treatments should be used are run by organisations across the NHS nationally. If you have a complaint about these services, contact the relevant authority. For example:

The NHS Blood and Transplant Authority is responsible for the safety and supply of blood, plasma, organs and tissues across the NHS. Complaints can be addressed to:

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) ensures that medicines and healthcare products work and are acceptably safe. You can notify the MHRA if you suspect that you've had an adverse reaction to a drug, a blood product, or an adverse incident with a healthcare product.

If you have a complaint about the work of the MHRA itself, follow the guidance on the MHRA website.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) produces national guidance on which drugs and treatments work, and are cost effective, as well as guidance on promoting good health.

To complain about the work of NICE, email or phone
+44 (0)845 003 7780.

Complain about the Department of Health

The Department of Health has its own complaints procedure which you can look up on GOV.UK. Here you will also find information about how your complaint is processed or what information you need to submit with your complaint.


The 8 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

GSC47 said on 30 January 2015

These webpages are impenetrable but I want to try to draw someones attention to the fact that my wife and I have been contacted by a company web page prompting us to renew our EHIC and charging for it - 20-25 pounds according to how urgent the renewal.
In fact the cards do not expire until 2016 a fact we didn't think about until after we renewed.
This is clearly a scam and other people should be warned since when we logged on to the NHS site the renewal is free.
Is there any way this can be publicised and our money recouped?

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wantstobeheardmum said on 22 May 2014

Im disgusted with how iv been spoken to by a nurse at 111 services im just a concerned mum and dont deserve to spoken to like that. My faith in the nhs has gone right out the window

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chef leon said on 30 April 2014

Today I attended a NHS hospital in London

On my last appointment I was unsatisfied with a comment made by my surgeon. I raised a complaint which I agreed would be kept confidential..........Unfortunately I was faced with a compromise of my information being passed to the surgeon?

It was apparent when there was a 3rd party at my appointment whom was not introduced, and no indication as to why he was part of my consultation. This situation was a pre planned exercise of the orthopaedics department before my appointment today.

With regret my surgeon felt that it is better if he refers me to another hospital and refused to continue as my surgeon

I asked for specific reason to why he would not continue as my surgeon. No answer given?

I have a ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament, grade III completer rupture MCL with no Surgeon taking care of me . Now I must wait for my GP to refer me to another Hospital.

I feel humiliated and ganged up on after my appointment which was pre planned today.

At the end the manager called security and requested me to be removed as I was being aggressive..............

I am completely shocked and tormented with this experience please can some one help me as I feel victimised.


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Rughill 100 said on 18 April 2014

I have been treated by the nhs for the last 5 years and through negligence i am now unable to work.
I canot get legal aid and the no win no fee solicitors are not interested.

Any ideas would be welcoming

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lslf said on 27 December 2013

My child had an appointment for 3 month immunisation on 10th december, but I received a call from GP that it's cancelled as they did not have a nurse, who can do it. GP advised that they will contact me asap to rearrange it. I contacted GP on 27th as I have not heard from them. GP advised that my child is not on waiting list, but will be definitely added and we will receive a call in next couple of weeks.
I am concerned now as it is nearly 3 weeks since we missed immunisation due to GP fault and we need to wait for couple more weeks, which means that my child ill be 4 moth already.

I am really concerned, it's my child health in end of the day!
Should I change GP?

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heather anne said on 23 October 2012

I have the same issue as Keith, in my practice (pennygate medical center hindley) they have an 0845 number, I'm a full time student and single parent I can't afford to be phoning that number to get an appointment

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healthwarning said on 27 August 2012

honestly is this what the "choices" in nhs choices means ? a load of un manageable web pages where you are just lost in the middle of a mass of pages, and none of them seem to have any effect ?

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Keith Dean said on 14 May 2012

Why is Derby Road group practice in Portsmouth allowed to use 0844 telephone numbers-it's a tax on 'sick' people who has to make 'phone calls to their surgery.

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Page last reviewed: 03/07/2014

Next review due: 03/07/2016

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