You are here:

Making a complaint

Professional misconduct

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.

Examples of professional misconduct include:

  • practitioners who have a sexual relationship with a patient,
  • practitioners who claim that they're competent to practise but are not,
  • practitioners who falsely claim that they're qualified to practise,
  • breaching confidentiality, and
  • manipulating patient's medical records.  

Professional regulators

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 due to 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 from practising if it's in the interests of public safety.

Details of how to contact the professional regulators are available from the General Medical Council (also available in 12 other languages). 

Healthcare regulators

The healthcare professional regulators in England are:

The Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) oversees the work of the health professions regulators. It carries out an annual performance review with each regulator, and looks at whether the regulator operates to agreed standards. CHRE looks at the final stage decisions made by the regulators on professionals' fitness to practise. If a decision is unduly lenient and therefore fails to protect the public, CHRE has the power to investigate it further. You can find out how to report a health professional on the CHRE website.  

Social care regulator

Until 1 August 2012, social workers in England were regulated by the General Social Care Council (GSCC). This task has now been transferred to the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC). The HCPC has codes of practice and training standards that professionals have to meet before they can register. Action may be taken against any registrant that does not meet the HCPC standards, including stopping them from practising. This means that if you are unhappy with the care or services you are given, or worried about the behaviour or health of a registrant, you can always raise your concerns with the HCPC.


The 10 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Rational said on 26 April 2015

All the individuals listed as regulated have undertaken long periods of study and thus have invested in their professions and have big incentives not to break confidentiality rules. However, staff such as receptionists, have not undergone such an investment in training, but have , nevertheless, full access to patient records. I have been in the extremely embarrassing position of a receptionist shouting out a medication I take in front of a packed reception. She was on the phone to prescriptions to query the medication and requests for her to be discreet had the opposite effect. I made a complaint to the office manager which resulted in a 3xA4 page litigious response back. At times,the nhs gives the impression that all its staff should be protected from any verbal dissent etc from patients and that they can do no wrong - this is not the case.
I think receptionists should be subject to the same accountability as other medical professionals and be held accountable to patients when they have been found wanting. Receptionists are the physical gateway to the medical professionals. If they cannot be trusted to treat all patients with dignity then the nhs should consider the style of the current role; maybe, and I prefer this option, restricting the extent of patient data access to receptionists since they do not understand the full implications of disclosing delicate patient medical history etc to others standing in the reception area, and the potential this has to damage patient health as a result of public disclosure to ignorant members of society in which the patient lives.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

JusticeSeeker said on 30 November 2014

The amount of appalling treatment I and my family has had from the NHS (GPs, clinicians, nurses) cannot be a coincidence and we cannot be that unlucky. Going by others' experiences on this page, I can see we are not. The NHS is beyond awful in so many cases. Shocking. And as others have said, there is no recourse. PALS just send your complaint to the department you are complaining about and the PHSO is unfit for purpose.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

QuestionForDrs said on 04 November 2014

My friend's just told me that he went to see his NHS GP today and asked for a referral to a private medical company about an injury. Apparently this involves the GP filling in quite a lengthy form, and my friend had been warned that he might be charged for it.

The GP said there's a £15 charge and asked my friend to pay in cash, then directed him to a cash point around the corner. Is this normal? It seems very unusual to me - I can't imagine ever paying a GP in cash - so I thought I'd look into it for him.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Prettypolly2014 said on 13 June 2014

Hi homesweethome9. The podiatrist definitely sounds dodgy. Which trust do they work in? I would definitely complain. It is definitely professional misconduct

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

debi 12 said on 05 May 2014

i want to know what to do. a friend of mine on facebook has a friend who contacted me by requesting me as a friend. i was at an all time low after finding out that my husband had abused my children and was in need of friends. i accepted his request and to cut a long story short ended up telling him everything because he told me he was a mental health nurse and helped people in my situation. time went by and after confiding in him he eventually came to my home to see me promising his professional help. he came to my home and we went out to lunch and chatted about what i been through. he visited many times after that and eventually the relationship turned more serious and we were sleeping together, him promising me that he would help me because he was qualified to deal with mental disorders. i eventually found out he had a girlfriend and that was the end of it. i would like to know what i can do about this. he took advantage of a mentally ill person and i wouldnt want him to do this to someone else.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Homesweethome9 said on 10 April 2014

My partner recently missed an appointment, and contacted the podiatrist directly via a social media site, instead of going through his GP for another referral. The podiatrist has taken my partners contact details off the system and has met him since and given him the insoles he needed. However she has been texting him, offering to meet up for coffees and food. Can you tell me if this is professional misconduct? Because I feel very strongly about this situation and I believe that it is.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

User847651 said on 20 February 2014

My wife had operation today and she's been giving an expired yoghurt muller with the meal What quality check procedures the hospital follows very unprofessional unethical.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

myexperience said on 11 November 2013

I had a very good reason to complain about our GP (now not our GP) but she did not have a complaint handling policy, took a long time to respond, did not investigate it accurately, kept no records of an investigation and was finally dishonest in reply.

I went to the ombudsman but they said everything appeared normal. If that is normal no wonder the NHS is in such a state.

Apparently dishonesty is acceptable and isn't covered by professional misconduct but what she actually did was totally wrong and definitely negligent.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

1deano said on 17 April 2013

I had a 5 month wait for my wisdom out it finally came they took the scan but it wouldnt send to the computer at yeovil.... still sat here a month later no rebook which they said they had done...! Pathetic service

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

wisdomtooth said on 05 February 2010

what do you do if your dentist books you a paid dental appointment,but when you arrived on the date and time of your appointment,you find out that the dentist has closed down!

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Page last reviewed: 03/07/2014

Next review due: 03/07/2016


Learn about the watchdogs that monitor the NHS and other public healthcare providers

Equality and diversity in the NHS

Find out about the Equality Act 2010. The new laws give the NHS opportunities to work towards eliminating discrimination and reducing inequalities in care