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Frequently asked questions

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions. If you have a question that’s not answered here, please contact us using the phone number or email below.


The complaint process can take a long time.  How long would I get support from an advocate?

The service we give continues throughout the complaints procedure. You can ask us questions at the beginning, middle or end of the process. If one of our advocates is working with you on a more personal basis, they will be assigned to your case throughout your complaint, with regular contact.


What happens after I send in my complaint?

A telephone or face-to-face complaint should be recorded by the person receiving the complaint and formal acknowledgement of your complaint should be made to you within three days.  If you have sent an email or letter, a reply is expected three days after they receive your correspondence.  The standard timescale for an investigation is 20 days after which time you should receive  letter or email to tell you the outcome.


Can I make a complaint on behalf of someone who has died?

Yes.  You don’t need permission to be able to do this.


There’s a Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) service near me, can’t they help me with this complaint?

PALS staff can indeed help you with concerns you have about your care and treatment and will feed this back to NHS services. PALS can also give you information about how to make a complaint to the NHS.  PALS works closely with NHS complaints advocacy services throughout the country. Key differences between the two services are:

  • PALS is provided by the NHS; NHS complaints advocacy is independent from the NHS.
  • NHS complaints advocacy will give you support at the beginning, middle and end of the complaints process and where necessary provide personal support for you.
  • PALS does not give help and information about all NHS funded services.

You can find contact details for PALS on the NHS Choices website


How do I know who to complain to?

It can be confusing.  Who to complain to is covered in more detail in the self-help information pack. In summary:

  • if you’re complaining about a dentist, GP or pharmacist, you need to contact the practice manager at that service
  • if your complaint is about treatment from a hospital, you need to contact the chief executive of the NHS trust the hospital is governed by
  • if you’re complaining about any other NHS funded services you should approach the NHS Trust which runs that service

NHS services are funded by what are known as Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). These are listed on the NHS England website. You can make a complaint about your service to your local CCG.  If you’re complaining about an NHS service in Hammersmith and Fulham, you can contact the Hammersmith and Fulham CCG. You can also complain to NHS England directly.


What if my complaint doesn’t have the outcome I was hoping for?

You can take your complaint to a ‘higher’ authority known as the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).


What role does the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) have in my complaint?

If you have already made a complaint to the relevant NHS service and don’t feel you’ve received a satisfactory outcome, you can approach what is known as the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO). This is an independent organisation. The ombudsman will look at your complaint, and if necessary, contact the service you’re complaining about to explore further.

Once the ombudsman has investigated your complaint, you’ll receive a letter or email from them with a decision.  In some cases (but this is rare) what is known as a ‘full’ investigation is needed and can sometimes take up to one year.

Please note the ombudsman will only look at your complaint after you’ve complained directly to the service you’re unhappy with, and after they’ve responded to you.


Get in touch
Hammersmith & Fulham borough: 020 8106 1500
Hackney borough: 020 3960 7920
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Frequently asked questions