NHS Complaints
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NHS Complaints Advocacy

The National Health Service (NHS) works hard to treat everyone properly and promptly. Most people using the NHS are happy with their treatment, but sometimes things can go wrong. By raising your concerns you can help put things right and the NHS can learn from your experience.

Independent Health Complaints Advocacy is a free, independent advocacy service that can help you make a complaint about any aspect of your NHS care or treatment. This includes treatment in a private hospital or care home that is funded by the NHS.

Role of an Advocate

We will provide you with a Self Help Information Pack to help you make a complaint about your care or treatment using the NHS Complaints Procedure. You can choose to make your complaint with, or without, the support of an advocate. Your decision may depend on how confident you feel about starting the complaints process and the complexity of your case. If you feel you need further support, we can provide you with advocacy support.

To summarise our advocates can:

  • Support you with your NHS complaint
  • Provide a Self Help Pack to help you manage your complaint
  • Put you in touch with other people who can help you
  • Involve an interpreter or a translator, if you need one
  • Meet with you where you feel comfortable or speak on the phone

Benefits of Advocacy

Our advocates can:

  • Help you write letters to the right people
  • Go with you to meetings with medical professionals
  • Give you the opportunity to speak confidentially to someone who is independent of the NHS
  • Help you explore your options at every stage of the complaint
  • Answer questions to help you make decisions
  • Act on your direction rather than the wishes of others

Our advocates cannot:

  • Help you to claim compensation
  • Get an NHS Employee disciplined
  • Give legal advice
  • Help you with complaints about private medical treatment
  • Give medical advice
  • Support you with matters outside of the NHS complaints procedure


If you feel you have not had the service you expected from the National Health Service (NHS) and want to complain, the law says you have the right to have the support of an advocate.

If your complaint is about private healthcare, or a private care or nursing home, and you have paid for treatment or used medical insurance, you will need to contact the healthcare provider to find out what their complaints procedure is.

Advocate Role

Everyone has the right to make a complaint about their care and treatment under the NHS if they are not happy with the service they have received, and there is a process set down for this. Not everyone is able to do this by themselves and so our team of NHS Complaints Advocates is available so support people through the process.

This can be a problem with your GP, hospital treatment, dentist, mental health service, pharmacy, ambulance service or any other NHS funded service. We can help you get answers to questions about what went wrong, ask for an apology and reassurances that it won’t happen again. We are not there to help people get compensation or to take legal action or get NHS professionals sacked however.

It may be because you are going through treatment, you have been bereaved, you have a mental health or learning difficulty or English isn’t your first language. We can support anyone and there are no eligibility criteria. The service is free of charge and we are independent of the NHS.

Information is available through our Self Help Information Pack on our website or via our contact centre. Just call or e mail us and we can talk you through it and get the support set up.

Our advocates can support you to write a letter, help you understand the response, give you options about what you can do next, attend a meeting with you and help to ensure that your voice is heard and that you can better understand what went wrong for you and that it won’t happen again. Having someone ‘on your side’ can make a big difference to how the process works and our clients tell us that the support of an advocate makes a huge difference to them and their ability and self-confidence to manage the process.

Your complaint can be relating to a wide range of issues such as about the care and treatment you have received, problems with getting appointments or treatment you feel you are entitled to or lack of communication or the attitude of staff. We won’t tell you what to do or decide on your behalf if you have a valid complaint. It is your decision to go forward and we will support you in that without making a judgement ourselves.

We won’t give you advice, or tell you what to do, but will support you to make informed choices by giving you the alternatives available for what you can do so that you can decide yourself what is the best course of action for you. We will support you to go forward in the way you want to so that you remain in control of the complaint.

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Oxfordshire County Council

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