NHS Complaints

Advocacy Support

How it works

There are different reasons people make complaints.  Most of the time, people want to ask questions. They want to understand what happened and why and find out what action can be taken to put things right. They might also want an apology.  Complaints can also help services to make changes so that what’s happened doesn’t happen to someone else.

It can be difficult to speak up when you're not happy with your NHS care and treatment. The complaints process can be long and complicated.

To make this easier, the law says you can have support from an independent advocate and you won’t be charged for this service.


Our advocates will:

  • take time to understand your situation

  • help you decide what you want to achieve by making a complaint

  • help you understand the complaints process

  • explore your options at every stage of the complaint

  • help you decide what you want to do and how you want to do it

  • act on your direction if you don’t feel able to take action yourself

  • help you write letters to the right people

  • go with you to a Local Resolution Meeting with medical professionals. See our page on Local Resolution Meetings.


Our advocates won’t:

  • investigate your complaint

  • make any decisions for or about you

  • tell you what to do or give advice.

Please note that we are unable to help with:

  • taking legal action

  • NHS employee disciplinary procedures

  • complaints about private health services.

Who can refer?

Anyone can make a complaint about their NHS care or the care someone else has received.  Usually we will need the person’s written consent, but we understand that sometimes this isn’t possible. For example, you may wish to make a complaint on behalf of a recently deceased relative.

If you are under 16, and you can show you are able to make up your own mind about NHS treatment or care, you can refer yourself.  We hope you will chat with your parents or someone you trust when making a complaint, but you can choose not to.


Confidentiality and consent

When you receive a service from us, we will ask you to give us permission to work with you. For most of our services, we will ask you to complete a consent form.


If you are referring someone else you will need to ensure you have the person’s consent to talk to us on their behalf. If the person can’t consent, let us know.


We will not talk about you outside The Advocacy People without you telling us we can. 


However, we have to tell someone else without asking you first if you tell us something which makes us think you or someone else may be:

  1. at risk of serious harm or abuse

  2. committing a serious criminal offence.

We will always try to tell you if we are going to do this.