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Complaining to the NHS in Wales and who to talk to

This page explains your rights as a patient or carer when complaining to the NHS in Wales. If you’re receiving healthcare from a privately-run clinic not managed by the NHS, you’ll need to contact it directly about the complaints procedure.

All public health bodies have certain rules and regulations that they need to follow by law, including for complaints. Contact your local patient advocacy service for more information.

When to complain and who to contact

Complaints should be made within 12 months of the incident. This timeframe can sometimes be extended if you have a good enough reason. For example, the incident might have left you traumatised or unable to complain sooner. It must still be possible to investigate the complaint.

Contact the complaints department of your local health board  .

Patient rights and response times

You should receive an acknowledgement within two working days. A formal response should arrive within 20 working days, although it often takes longer if the complaint is complex. If this is the case, you’ll be kept informed of progress.

If the NHS decides that it has failed in its duty of care and caused you harm then it’s responsible, and can offer redress to make things right. This can either be a written apology, additional treatment or up to £25,000 in financial compensation. Further investigation might be needed before compensation is made.

If you’re not happy with the outcome

If you’re not happy, you can take your complaint to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales  , which will decide whether to investigate it.

You’ll need to include the following alongside the facts of the complaint:

  • All your personal details including contact phone number and address.
  • Name and location of anyone who’s dealt with your complaint to date.
  • Outcome of previous complaints and why you believe they’re unjust.

Keep copies of everything you post and note down when it was sent.

Organisations that can help

Healthcare regulators

The role of the regulator is to monitor all the health and social care professionals practising in the UK, whether private or NHS-funded. It makes sure that doctors, GPs, dentists and other care professionals are meeting the national standards.

In Wales, this work is done by the Healthcare Inspectorate Wales  .

Patient advice, liaison and advocacy

The following organisation was set up by the government to help patients in Wales understand their rights, and support them in the complaints procedure.

Get in touch with your local Community Healthcare Council   for more information.

Reporting professional misconduct

The Health and Care Professionals Council   (HCPC) is a register of accredited medical practitioners in the UK working in 16 industries, including occupational therapists and dieticians. Its website has a detailed guide to reporting someone on the HCPC register if you suspect them of professional misconduct.

If you want to report a nurse, contact the Nursing and Midwifery Council  .

If you want to report a doctor, contact the General Medical Council  .

Legal advice and compensation

If you’ve had a medical accident, contact the charity Action against Medical Accidents   (AVMA) for advice on next steps, including compensation.

Citizens Advice   – England and Wales.

Law Society   – find a solicitor in England and Wales.

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