General advice about making a complaint

  • It is best to first speak with a member of staff involved with your care. This means that concerns you have may be sorted out quickly and easily. If staff cannot help you, or if you are not comfortable speaking with them you may want to make a formal complaint.
  • A complaint should be made as soon as possible after the incident has happened. You usually need to complain within 12 months of the incident, or within 12 months of you first being aware of the issue. The time limit may be extended in special circumstances.
  • You can complain on behalf of someone else if they are aware of the complaint and have given consent. If they are unable to give consent the complaint can be made by a person who has interest in the patient’s welfare, consent from next of kin and/or proof of identity might be required.
  • The service you have responded to should always acknowledge your complaint and respond with how they intend to investigate.
  • They should investigate your complaint and resolve the problem quickly and efficiently. You should also be kept informed about how the investigation is going. 
  • You may be invited to a meeting to discuss your complaint, be offered mediation, or other help to help resolve it. You should be able to take someone with you if you wish.
  • When the investigation is complete, you should be told how the complaint has been investigated, explain the conclusions reached, and give details of how to escalate your complaint if you are not satisfied.
  • If you believe it is a serious case of professional misconduct you could report the problem to their regulatory body to investigate. For example the General Medical Council.


Writing your complaint letter


Be brief, clear, and polite.

  • Try to keep to two pages or less. If the complaint is long and complex, attach details in a log sheet or diary of events.
  • Identify specific concerns you would like addressed or specific questions you want answered.
  • Explain what it is that you hope to achieve through the complaints process.
  • Try to remain polite and calm, avoid aggressive or accusing language.
  • Send photocopies of documents, not originals.
  • Send by guaranteed or recorded delivery to make sure your letter is received.
  • Keep a record of who you speak or write to and on what date and keep copies of any letters.


What to expect if you do complain

You should:

  • have your complaint acknowledged and properly looked into
  • be kept informed of progress and told the outcome
  • be treated fairly, politely and with respect
  • be reassured that your care and treatment will not be affected as a result of making a complaint
  • be offered the opportunity to discuss the complaint with a complaints manager
  • expect appropriate action to be taken following your complaint


Need help making a complaint?

For further information, advice, or support when making a complaint you can contact an Independent Complaints Advocacy Service.

Phone – 0300 456 2370
Email – [email protected]
Website –

I don’t want to make a complaint but would like to share my experience

If you do not want to make a complaint, but still want your voice heard, you can share your experience with us here at Healthwatch Norfolk.

We share your feedback with commissioners and service providers to help shape how services are designed and delivered in Norfolk. You can leave your feedback anonymously if you wish.

Contact Healthwatch Norfolk by:

Phone – 0808 168 9669
Email – [email protected]
Online –  Submit your feedback anonymously on our website here