Download PDF Problems in hospital

By Alina Ellerington, Encephalitis Society

Making a complaint

If you are unhappy with the hospital service or any other NHS service you can make a complaint to the hospital or that service. Each hospital/ service has a policy regarding the complaints procedure. Alternatively you can complain directly to the commissioner of the specific service: NHS England for GPs and CQC for hospitals or community services. The time limit for complaints is usually twelve months from the date this happened, or twelve months from the date that you first became aware of it. They can extend the time limit where it would be unreasonable to expect you to have complained in time, for example, because of grief or trauma.

Sometimes it is quicker and worthwhile to discuss the issue directly with the provider of the service before you make an official complaint. The complaints procedure could be quite overwhelming. You may need to ask for help from somebody who understands the procedure such as PALS (please see below) or someone from an independent NHS Complaints Advocacy service, details of which you can find through your local council website.

Organisations that can help

There are a few organisations which may help if you experience problems or need advice while in hospital:

  • Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) can provide confidential information and support on health-related matters while you or your loved one is in hospital. They liaise with staff, managers and, where appropriate, other relevant organisations, to negotiate speedy solutions and to help bring about changes to the way that services are delivered. You can find PALS officers at the local hospital.
  • The Patients Association ( provides information to patients and their families about the healthcare system.

        Helpline:  0800 345 7115

  • Local Healthwatch provides general advice and support regarding complaints about the NHS and social care. Each local Healthwatch is part of the local community and works in partnership with other local organisations. An online search facility for your local Healthwatch is available on their website at   

The Encephalitis Society can provide you with support and direct you to those best placed to address your concerns.   [email protected]; +44 (0) 1653 699599


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    FS056V3 Problems in hospital

    Date created: June 2001; Last updated: October 2021; Review date: October 2024

    Disclaimer: We try to ensure that the information is easy to understand, accurate and up-to-date as possible. If

    you would like more information on the source material the author used to write this document please contact the Encephalitis Society. None of the authors of the above document has declared any conflict of interest which may arise from being named as an author of this document.