Access information about NHS Complaints Advocacy in British Sign Language

What is NHS Complaints Advocacy?

NHS Complaints Advocacy is free, independent of the NHS and confidential. We can help you to use the NHS complaints process.

If you have a concern about the health care you or someone you know is receiving at the moment, you should speak to a doctor or nurse or contact PALS (the Patient Advice Liaison Service). If you are still concerned after that, or if you want to complain about something that has already happened you may want to make a complaint and we are here to help.

The NHS Complaints Process

You can use the complaints process to complain about any NHS funded treatment including care provided by NHS hospitals, GPs, ambulance services, district nurses and mental health services. You can also use the process to complain about a dentist, a pharmacist or an optician if they provided NHS care. Also if the NHS paid for treatment at a private hospital or pays all or part of someone’s care home fees this is covered by the complaints process.

You can complain about your own care and treatment or someone else’s but you may need to get their consent before the NHS will investigate.

If after doing everything you can to sort out your complaint you are not happy with the way the NHS has dealt with it you can take your complaint to the Health Service Ombudsman. This is the second and last stage of the NHS complaints process. You can find out more about taking your complaint to the Ombudsman from their website

What the NHS Complaints Advocacy Service can and can't do?

We can

  • Give you information about how to complain including who to complain to
  • Explain the complaints process and your options at each stage of the process
  • Signpost you to other organisations who can help you if we can’t
  • Send you an information pack to help you make your complaint yourself
  • Provide you with an advocate to support you if you need more help

We can’t

  • Investigate your complaint
  • Support you with a complaint about something that happened more than 12 months ago, unless you have only just found out that something went wrong or you have a good reason for not complaining sooner. This is because the NHS regulations say you should complain within 12 months.
  • Support you with a complaint about private health care
  • Support you to complain about a medical professional’s fitness to practise (whether they are able to do their job)
  • Give you legal advice
  • Give you medical advice

What sort of support can we offer?

  • Self-help information - You can download our self-help information, including information about the NHS complaints process and how to make your complaint. You might find that the self-help information is all you need to make your complaint yourself but you can contact us if your need more information or advice.
  • Information and advice - If you are not sure whether to make a complaint please contact us. We will listen and help you decide whether there are other ways of sorting out your concerns. We can also answer questions about the complaints process.

  • Support from an advocate - If you feel you need more help an NHS Complaints advocate can support you at any stage of the complaints process. Advocates can help with writing letters, getting copies of your medical records and finding information about your concerns. If you decide to meet with NHS staff to sort out your concerns your advocate can help you prepare for the meeting and if you want, come with you. We can also help you take your complaint to the Ombudsman.

Where do we provide this service?

You can find out if we provide an NHS Complaints Advocacy in your area by clicking on the link below. If we don’t provide a service where you live, please call our support centre on 0300 456 2370 for information, advice and signposting to other organisations in your area who may be able to help you.

POhWER support in your area

How do I get support from an advocate?

If you would like an advocate to support you with your complaint you can contact us or complete a referral form and send it to us. You can also make a referral for someone else but please get their permission first.

NHS Complaints Advocacy referral form (word version)

NHS Complaints Advocacy referral form (pdf version)

When we work with you we will ask you to complete a Consent Form, you can download a form below or we will send you a copy.

Consent form

Consent form in large print


About POhWER NHS Complaints Advocacy (pdf)

About POhWER NHS Complaints Advocacy in large print and bold (pdf)

About POhWER NHS Complaints Advocacy in Easy Read (pdf)

NHS Complaints Advocacy leaflet (pdf)

NHS Complaints Advocacy leaflets in other community languages

NHS Complaints Advocacy step by step guide (pdf)

NHS Complaints Advocacy step by step guide in large print and bold (pdf)

NHS Complaints Advocacy in British Sign Language