What we do
We make final decisions on complaints that have not been resolved by the NHS in England and UK government departments and some UK public organisations.
You can complain to us if you believe there has been an injustice or hardship because an organisation has not acted properly or put things right.
Normally you should complain to the organisation first so it has a chance to put things right. When the organisation has replied, if you still think that they have not resolved your concerns, you can ask us to look at the complaint.
We are not part of Government or the NHS in England, and we are not a regulator. We are not a consumer champion or a mediator. Our service is impartial, independent and free for everyone.
When people bring their complaints to us, we consider them under a three-stage process:
Stage 1: We carry out some initial checks to see if the complaint is one we can look into, if it is not, we give people information on what they can do next.
Stage 2: We assess the complaint and decide if we should investigate it.
Stage 3: We make a final decision on the complaint following an investigation.
Tell us what you think
We have listened to what people want from us. These are people who have complained to us, groups who have a special interest in our work, and organisations we receive complaints about.
The promises in this charter set out what you can expect from us throughout our complaints process. If you are making a complaint to us or you are the organisation the complaint is about, we will do our best to meet our promises, and we will report every year on how we are doing. We also explain here what we would like from you in return.
We would like to hear your views on our draft service charter, and we hope you take part in this consultation. It will run until Wednesday 13 January 2016, and we will use your feedback to finalise the service charter.
To feedback on our draft charter, please fill in our survey.
We expect to be able to show that we are doing what we promise by summer 2016.
When you contact our service
- clearly explain our role, how we handle complaints, what we can and cannot look at, and what information we need from you
- listen to you to make sure we understand your complaint
- advise you on what we can and cannot achieve with your complaint
- try to resolve your complaint at the earliest possible stage
- let you know as soon as we can if we are going to investigate your complaint. If we can’t help with your complaint, where appropriate, we will direct you to someone who can
When we carry out an investigation
- listen to what you want from us and check that we understand your complaint
- explain to you what we will be investigating and how we will carry out the investigation
- advise you on how long we think it may take, and what further information we need from you and others
- be open about what we are seeing during our investigation and, where we can, share facts, and emerging views
- consider all the evidence and information you and the organisation complained about give us
- give both you and the organisation complained about the opportunity to comment on our draft investigation report
- make decisions on complaints based on an objective look at the evidence we receive from all those involved in the complaint
- clearly explain our decisions and recommendations, how we reached them, and the information we used
Throughout our contact with you
- treat you with courtesy and respect
- work with you to understand your individual needs and make sure our service is easily accessible to you
- give you information in plain English or other languages and formats if you need this
- put you in touch, where possible, with any support you may need, such as an advocacy group
- carry out our work as quickly and thoroughly as possible bearing in mind the individual circumstances of your complaint
- keep you updated throughout our handling of your complaint
- give you the name of the person handling your complaint, so you can contact them directly by phone, email or letter
- make sure our record keeping is accurate, keep your information safe and share it appropriately
Making a difference
- share the learning from our casework with Parliament, to help it scrutinise the organisations we investigate
- share this information widely with the organisations we investigate, regulators and others, to help improve public services
- promote and share good practice when we see it
Listening and learning to improve our service
- let you know who you can raise concerns with at any stage of the process
- acknowledge and apologise for any mistakes we make, and take action to put things right
- listen to your feedback and use what we have learned to improve our service
- regularly report on our performance and how we are doing against these promises on our website
- report to Parliament on how we are performing against this charter
What we expect from people when they use our service
We need you to:
- complain to the organisation first so it has a chance to put things right
- treat our staff with courtesy and respect
- give us information in the timescales we have agreed with you to avoid unnecessary delays
- tell us if you have any particular needs that we should be aware of
- understand that we may not always be able to achieve what you are looking for
- appreciate that we will manage the investigation in a way that is fair to all those involved in the complaint, deciding what questions and evidence is relevant to the complaint
What we expect from organisations complained about
We need you to:
- give the complainant a clear final answer to their complaint
- make people aware of our service when you send them a final response to their complaint
- treat our staff and complainants with courtesy and respect
- work with us to address the complaint as quickly and effectively as possible
- give us all the information we ask for in a timely way
- show the complainant and us how you have acted on our recommendations