Asking for advice or raising complaints and concerns with us

There are some complaints we can help with directly. In other cases we can help direct you to the organisation that may be able to help you.

We've set out below where we can help or when we will help you get to the right place depending on whether you are a patient, family member, someone that works in the NHS or any organisation relevant to our role.

We also explain how you can complain about us. If you are unclear about our role then please contact us.

Patients, carers and family members

A complaint about the care or treatment you've received

If you have a complaint about the care or treatment you have received, we cannot help resolve it, but we can help you get to the right place. Within 18 working days we will get back in touch with you to:
  • tell you where to direct your complaint to get it resolved - either the organisation that provided the care, or the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman if you're unhappy with the outcome
  • give you a point of contact at the organisation you are complaining about, if we can
  • tell you about other help you can get to make your complaint

Patient choice

If your complaint is about patient choice we may be able to help you directly. Please contact us and we will see if we can help.

The NHS Constitution says that patients have the right to choose any NHS provider (that is clinically appropriate) for their first consultant-led outpatient appointment.

You also have the right to be offered an alternative provider if you have not received a consultant-led outpatient appointment within 18 weeks of a referral from your GP.

We will acknowledge your enquiry within 2 days and contact you within 18 working days to provide advice or let you know how we intend to proceed.

How we will use information you provide us

We may use the information you provide us when you contact us in other ways. If we are going to use this information for other work that we do we will let you know how we plan to do so within 18 working days

There are 2 key areas where we can use the information you share with us:

Governance of NHS trusts and foundation trusts
If you make a complaint to us about an NHS  trust or foundation trust we will consider whether it could signal underlying problems with how the trust is run. If so, we will consider what further work we need to do to verify whether underlying problems exist and how we can support the trust to fix them.

Integrated care in the NHS

Providers of NHS care have an obligation to to not stand in the way of care being delivered in an integrated way. If you think a  healthcare provider may have breached these obligations we will use the information you provide to decide whether or not to look at the more general behaviour of the provider. For more detailed information about integrated care see our guidance.

NHS staff or NHS foundation trust governors

NHS staff concerns (whistleblowing)

If you work in the NHS - or for any organisation relevant to our role - and have serious concerns that you can’t raise within your organisation, you can contact us as a whistleblower.

In general we cannot resolve individual cases, but will use information from whistleblowers to consider, primarily, whether they raise wider governance concerns about how a trust is being run by its board.

You can find out more information about the types of concern you can raise with us and how we will consider your concern in our raising concerns (whistleblowing) policy for NHS staff.

Procurement, patient choice and competition

Part of our role is to make sure that procurement, patient choice and competition operate in the best interests of patients and to step in if anti-competitive behaviour by NHS commissioners or providers goes against patients' interests.

We can provide advice, including to providers and commissioners about these obligations. We can also look at complaints about how commissioners are commissioning healthcare services which might not be in the best interests of patients.

We will acknowledge your enquiry within 2 days and contact you within 18 working days to provide advice or let you know how we intend to proceed.

Examples of advice we have given are:
  • a patient contacted us because they did not feel they were being treated quickly enough. We were able to advise them of the choices available to access quicker treatment
  • a commissioner contacted us to discuss their plans for a prime contractor and we advised them how the rules applied to those plans
  • a provider contacted us with concerns about a commissioner’s conduct and we advised them about the rules relating to conflicts of interests
Find more information and guidance about procurement, patient choice and competition.

Complain about us

If you’re not satisfied with any aspect of our service, let us know so we can resolve the matter as quickly as possible. You can complain if you feel we have:
  • treated you unfairly
  • provided poor service
  • acted incorrectly
  • taken too long to take action
  • failed to take action
  • not provided information

What happens next

After receiving a complaint, we will:
  • acknowledge receipt within 2 working days
  • telephone you where possible to confirm our understanding of your complaint and explain what will happen next
  • investigate your complaint, which may include gathering documents and interviewing members of staff
  • write to you with a provisional decision or further response within 20 working days of receipt
  • If you’re not satisfied with our response to your complaint, contact your MP to refer the complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Contact us

Speak to us

020 3747 0900

Email us

Write to us

Enquiries, complaints and whistleblowing team
NHS Improvement
Wellington House
133-155 Waterloo Road


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