Hints and tips: Writing a complaint letter to the NHS

It is not unusual to feel confused and uncertain when you believe something has gone wrong with the healthcare provided to you or a loved one. You have a statutory right to a complaint investigation and response if your concerns are not resolved informally.

If you decide to put your concerns in writing, there are a number of factors you need to consider:

  • Speak to the healthcare professionals who treated you first – they may be able to provide you with more information, or may even settle your complaint if it is relatively minor. They can also tell you the best person to send your complaint to. The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) service may also be able to help.
  • Make sure you have the right to complain – if you are complaining on behalf of someone else, you will need their written permission or, if they can’t give you this (for example, if they are too ill or deceased), you should explain this in your letter.
  • Include all the relevant information in your letter – such as where the treatment took place and the date or dates of the incident(s). If possible, include the name, date of birth and NHS number of the person affected.
  • Compile a list of the questions you want answered.
  • Explain clearly what happened and why you are unhappy. You should also explain what you want to happen next as a result of your complaint – you may want an apology, further treatment, or assurance that this won’t happen again to anyone else.
  • You have a right to a complaints investigation whether or not you are taking or intend to take legal action. If you are told differently, please contact us

Download our guide now

AvMA can provide support and advice to you when you are making your complaint. Further details are available on our website and you can download a range of self-help guides, including our complete guide to writing a letter of complaint.