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Making a complaint about your GP

Lesley Dobson / 11 November 2016

What steps can you take if you are unhappy about the care you've received from your GP?

Making a complaint
There are a number of steps you can take to raise an issue and make a complaint.

Most of the time, the care and treatment we have from our GP is very good, and helps us deal with our health problems. However, things don’t always go smoothly, and there may be times when you are unhappy about the care you’ve received.

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If this happens there are a number of steps you can take to raise the issue, and to make a complaint.

Your complaint may cover a wide range of topics, from being given an incorrect diagnosis and/or treatment, not being given pain relief, an unreasonable delay in diagnosis or treatment, to clinical negligence that has brought about personal injury.

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How to complain about your GP

The first step is to ask your GP’s surgery for a copy of their complaints procedure, as this will explain what you need to do. You can make your complaint in writing, by email, or by speaking to them.

You can talk to a member of staff at your GP’s surgery – ask to speak to the Practice Manager to start with. If you can talk to them or your GP about your concerns, and they are able to sort the problem out so that you are satisfied with the result, you may not have to go through the formal complaints process. This is known as a local resolution.

Complaining directly to your GP about your treatment or any other concern isn’t always easy. If you prefer not to do this, or feel that your concerns haven’t been dealt with to your satisfaction, you can still make a formal complaint. NHS England is the commissioning body for GP services, and for GPs’ contracts, and deals with complaints about GPs.

You can send your complaint by post to:

NHS England, PO Box 16738, Redditch, B97 9PT

You can also send your complaint by email to: Put ‘For the attention of the complaints team’ in the subject line.

You can also reach them by phone, on 0300 311 22 33, or, if you use sign language, you  can contact NHS England’s BSL Service through a video call to a BSL interpreter.

Make sure that you give NHS England as much information as you can, so that they can look into your complaint. So make sure you include your name, email address and home address so they can reply to you, a phone number, a full description of what your complaint is about, and when the problem happened. Also include the name of the service involved, and any relevant correspondence you’ve had with them.

If your complaint is on behalf of someone else, you will need to provide evidence of their consent. (NHS England should contact you about this.)

Time limits on complaining about your GP

It’s a good idea to submit your complaint as soon as you can, so that it is still fresh in your mind, and doesn’t become a long-term worry. You should also bear in mind that there is a time limit for complaints. This is generally 12 months from the date of the problem happening, or 12 months from the date that you first became aware of the problem.

There are other options open to you, such as your local Healthwatch and the General Medical Council (GMC). You’ll find a link to a useful leaflet on GP complaints, produced with Citizens Advice on a link on the Healthwatch website, and on the Citizens Advice website.

If you have had a final response from your GP practice, regarding your complaint, and you aren’t happy with it, you can complain to the ombudsman. However, the ombudsman won’t consider your complaint if it is more than 12 months since the problem happened.

If your complaint is about out-of-hours services you can make your complaint directly to the company that provides these services, or to the Clinical Commissioning Group for your area. You can find contact details for your CCG on NHS Choices website.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.