Comments policy

The NHS website has a number of areas where you can contribute to the site. You can comment on and rate almost any NHS service, including hospitals, GP practices and dentists. We welcome feedback, whether you, a friend or a family member were a patient, a customer or just visiting.

Contributions to this website are moderated, meaning they are checked to make sure they don't break our rules before they are published. We employ the services of a trusted third party to help us do this. You will need to keep your contributions constructive, relevant and civil. The rules and guidelines below are to protect both you and the NHS, and our moderators will not publish contributions they deem to break the rules.

Should you have further questions and would like to contact us, please get in touch with our Service Desk team either via our feedback form or by emailing nhswebsite.servicedesk@nhs.net.

If you wish to make a complaint about our content or any operational issues, please email nhswebsite.complaint@nhs.net. Additionally you can read the NHS website complaint process (PDF, 192kb) and for more detailed information see the NHS website complaints policy (PDF, 904kb).

Commenting on NHS services (including hospitals, GP practices and dentists)

The service you receive from the NHS in England will never be adversely affected by your feedback on hospitals, GP surgeries, dental practices or any other health provider and you can comment anonymously if you wish. You should respect the anonymity of other patients and staff at the service you are commenting on by not using their names.

The "Leave review" feature available on many NHS service provider profiles on the NHS website allows you to comment on the service you received, or the service you witnessed a friend or a family member receiving. This is not a formal complaint procedure and if you wish to make a complaint you should read our guide to making a complaint.

NHS trusts and the service providers are not obliged to read or respond to the comments, though many do. If you want a reply to your feedback you should contact the provider of the NHS service directly or alternatively contact the commissioner of the service. NHS England is responsible for purchasing primary care services such as GPs, dentists, pharmacists, optical services and some specialised services. Your local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is responsible for secondary care including hospital treatments, emergency care and some community services, like district nursing.

You can comment on your experience even if you are paying for your care privately – so long as the service provider also provides NHS care.

Feedback should be made within the "Leave review" area of the NHS service provider profile page. This area is not suitable for making general political points about NHS services. Feedback from members of staff will not be accepted. Comments solicited by service providers or a related party are not permitted. Service providers must not post comments on behalf of patients, their friends or family members.

Ratings and comments must be about events within the past two years. Once the event described in a comment we've published is more than two years old, it is removed from the service's profile, along with any associated ratings and information.

Complaining about another person's comment

If you think someone's contribution to the website breaks our rules you can alert one of our moderators by selecting the "Report as unsuitable" link directly beneath the comment. Reporting a comment will not delete it but will temporarily remove it and ensure we look at it as soon as possible. The moderators will then decide whether to remove it permanently or reinstate it.

The NHS website does not remove reviews in situations where organisations and reviewers disagree about the facts disclosed in a review. Our policy is to be impartial and it isn't possible to determine what happened or who is right about the reviewer's experience.

Relevance, civility and decency

Relevance: comments must be relevant to the experience of care with the associated provider.

Be civil: please ensure that your contributions are respectful of others. We will remove contributions that are unlawful, harassing, abusive, threatening, obscene, sexually suggestive, racist, homophobic or sexist, or that incite or promote hatred of any group or individual.

Writing in capitals: do not overuse capital letters – on the internet this is regarded as "shouting" and many people find it offensive.

Be informative: ensure your comment has enough information to describe your experience, and if you are commenting on a hospital, GP practice, dental practice or community NHS service, provide enough information to assist someone else in making decisions about the service. Comments deemed uninformative by our moderators may not be published.

Abusive language: comments containing swearing will not be published.

English: all comments on the website must be made in English. Comments in other languages will not be published.

Stereotypes: comments that stereotype sections of society will not be published.

Multiple posts: duplicate comments or repeats will not be published. Users should only post one review per experience.

Privacy and confidentiality

The NHS website uses a trusted third party (called icuc.social) to provide moderation services. This company is based in the UK and is required to keep your details confidential and secure, in keeping with our own privacy policy.

For the NHS website to publish your comment you will need to be either logged in to your NHS website account or provide a valid email address where we can contact you. When you submit your comment, we will also see your IP address. These details are kept confidential and will be used by NHS staff and the moderation service provider to process your submission. The NHS website uses your email address to contact you:

  • to let you know your comment has been published, or if it has breached this policy
  • if we need to clarify an aspect of your comment
  • if your comment gives us cause for concern about your wellbeing or that of someone else. We may send you information about how to access appropriate support

The NHS website will only use your details for the purposes of dealing with your enquiry, training, quality monitoring or evaluating the services we provide. We will not pass on your details to anyone else without your express permission except in exceptional circumstances. Examples of this might include anyone reporting serious self-harm or posing a threat to others, or children contacting us and sharing serious issues.

Whether you are speaking for yourself, a friend or a family member, do not name the individuals you are talking about. If you are making a comment on another person's behalf, it is best to talk of "my husband" or "my uncle" and so on to help protect their privacy.

Personal information

To help protect your privacy, any information you contribute that reveals personal information, such as names, phone numbers, email addresses, Twitter handles, addresses and so on will be removed. Any posts attempting to use the site to exchange personal information or arrange meetings with another user will not be published.

The personal information you share will be held by us for up to 2 years so that we can get in touch with you about what you have written and so you can contact us to change or remove your comment. When we remove the comment from our site due to the events occurring over 2 years ago, we also remove all the personal information we hold in connection with it.

When you write a review and wish to remain anonymous we will not publish your personal details on the website or pass them to the organisation you are reviewing, except in the exceptional circumstances described above. You should be aware your comments may allow the provider to guess who you are even when you post anonymously. We do not allow the provider to reveal your identity in any response they submit for publication on this website.

Screenames, nicknames and impersonation

Names used on the NHS website are moderated. When selecting a name to be displayed on the website make sure you choose one that is not rude, offensive or aimed at impersonating another person.

Naming businesses: Please avoid naming businesses or commercial services in your comment. Any comments breaching this rule will not be published.

Under-16s: If you are under 16 ensure you have permission from a parent or guardian before posting on the NHS website.

Health advice, medical products and commercial activity

Comments that glamourise smoking, drug use or drinking, or that promote a poor moral example will be removed.

Asking for and giving specific medical or health advice is not permitted.

Comments deemed to be advertising a product or service will not be published.

We may remove comments that reference specific medical products or medicines if the context is not appropriate.

Irrespective of their contents, comments will not be published if they were, or might reasonably be suspected of being, made following financial or any other inducement.

Legal issues, criminal activity or negligence

Current court cases and court injunctions: contempt of court rules mean you cannot make comments that could prejudice the outcome of a court case or General Medical Council hearing. Comments on something that subsequently becomes the subject of a court case or hearing will also be removed if they risk being in contempt of court. Contributions that break a court injunction will be removed.

Clinical negligence or criminal activity: comments that give an account of clinical negligence will not be published. If you have an allegation of clinical negligence please use the NHS complaints procedure. Accusations of criminal activity will not be published. If you believe that criminal activity is or has taken place at an organisation please contact the police or the organisation directly.

Defamation: defamation is a complex area. Defamation may occur when someone makes a statement that causes serious harm to a person's reputation. The law allows you to post comments containing your honestly held opinion, provided you identify the facts on which you are expressing your opinion. Posting untrue statements is against the law if they cause serious harm to a person's reputation or are likely to do so. We remove comments where we judge there is not a lawful basis for their publication.

Disclaimer: this definition is not to be regarded as a statement of the law nor should it be relied upon to make any judgement as to whether content is potentially defamatory. It is up to you to decide whether to take specific legal advice.

Threats: comments containing threats of public fear, terrorism or threats towards any individual are not permitted.

Copyright: ensure that you own the copyright to any material you put on the site - especially if you have copied it from another source. If we are in doubt about the ownership of content we will remove it from the site.

Further information

Copyright of your contributions

Your contributions to the NHS website are published to the general public. In submitting your comments you assign all rights to the NHS website for use and publication of your contribution (further information can be found in terms and conditions). If you are unwilling to grant the NHS website copyright to your contribution you should not submit it to the site.

Action we may take

A breach of any of our rules can lead to your comment being rejected. Repeated or serious breaches of our rules may lead to the NHS website blocking contributions from your email address or suspending your NHS website account. The NHS website reserves the right to delete any content at any time for any reason and is under no obligation to publish any contributions. The NHS website reserves the right to alter or update the house rules or terms and conditions at any time.

Page last reviewed: 24/05/2018
Next review due: 24/05/2021