Complaints and compliments

Your right to make a complaint

Everyone has the right to raise a concern and make a complaint about any aspect of NHS care, treatment or service, and this is written into the NHS Constitution on GOV.UK.

If you are unhappy with an NHS service, you should raise your concerns early on with the provider of the service this includes a GP surgery, care home, dentist or hospital, so they can look into your concern.

How to raise a concern

  • Try to resolve the problem at an early stage by talking to staff or managers at the provider or service.
  • If the complaint is about a member of staff or there has not been an acceptable response, you should contact someone more senior at the service.
  • If the problem cannot be resolved in this way, ask for a copy of the service’s complaints procedure. This will outline the stages at which your complaint will be considered, who will consider it, how long it will take, and routes for resolution if it is not resolved to your satisfaction.
  • You should put the complaint in writing and keep a record of any related contact and the dates.

Most problems can be dealt with at this stage, but in some cases, you may feel more comfortable speaking to someone not directly involved in your care. If you concern or complaint isn’t resolved, you may need to take your concerns to a different organisation to be considered.

Acting quickly is important

Please raise your concern as quickly as possible so it can be looked into by the provider or service.

If you are considering making a complaint but need help

Some people find it helpful to talk to someone who understands the complaints process first and get some guidance and support. This may include speaking to the patient experience team in a hospital (some hospitals may have a Patient Advice and Liaison Service) or an organisation’s complaints team.

Independent support and advice to raise a concern

If you feel unable to make a complaint about an NHS service on your own, or would like the support of someone independent, contact The Advocacy People.

They provide a local health complaints advocacy service which can provide you with a range of support to express your views and ask questions. You can also call them on 0330 440 9000.

The service is free and independent of the NHS. Other advocacy providers may charge you for their services.

Contacting Healthwatch

Healthwatch are your local health and social care champion, they make sure NHS leaders and other decision makers hear your voice and use your feedback to improve care.

If you use GPs and hospitals, dentists, pharmacies, care homes, or other support services in Cornwall, they want to hear about your experiences. Healthwatch are independent and have the power to make sure NHS leaders and other decision makers listen to local feedback and improve standards of care.

Compliments and complaints about NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Integrated Care Board (ICB)7

We welcome complaints, comments and suggestions about the Integrated Care Board. We also value your views and take them into account when planning for the future and making improvements.

If you contact our chief executive officer with concerns about NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly ICB, your complaint will be passed to the complaints team. The team will contact you to discuss your concerns and determine the best way forward. The complaints’ manager will ensure the chief executive officer is updated regarding your case.

If your case is about another NHS provider then the team will ask for your consent to send it to them for investigation or response. This is because it is the right and responsibility of the provider to investigate and respond to concerns about their services. Information about how to contact some of our local providers can be found further down on this page.

Compliments and complaints about GP practices, pharmacists, opticians and dentists

GPs, pharmacists, opticians and dentists are independent contractors and the law requires them to have their own complaints procedures. As such they are best placed to answer your concerns and we recommend you contact them directly about the service you received. However, if you have concerns about doing so, please contact us in one of the ways outlined below and we can arrange for your complaint to be investigated by our regional hub.

The hub team will contact you on behalf of the ICB to discuss your complaint and obtain your consent to contact the provider so they can investigate your concerns. The response will be reviewed by the ICB chief medical officer or another executive before being sent to you.

  • Telephone01726 627975
  • Post: NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, Part 2S, Chy Trevail, Beacon Technology Park, Dunmere Road, Bodmin, PL31 2FR. Note: Please include your telephone number so we can contact you.

Comments or complaints’ about other local organisations

You should first contact the organisation following the guidance outlined in the ‘how to raise a concern’ section above.  The main health and care providers for Cornwall and Isles of Scilly are shown below:

If you have a concern about a doctor or nurse’s behaviour or performance you can raise this through the following organisations:

Care Quality Commissioner (CQC)

You can raise a concern or complain to the CQC about the organisation that provided or paid for the care received.  Although the CQC are not able to take forward complaints on your behalf, information given to them can help protect others from going through the same experience.  Complain about a service or provider – Care Quality Commission (

How the complaints procedure works

Who can I complain to?

The general principle of the NHS complaints procedure is to complain to the organisation you consider to be at fault. As commissioners we are happy to discuss any concerns you may have regarding this process and pass your complaint to the provider on your behalf. You can ask any provider to share their response with the ICB, or you can share your complaint response with us. Under the complaint regulations the ICB cannot re-investigate a complaint on your behalf.

Who can complain?

You can complain if you have been affected, or are likely to be affected, by something NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly has or has not done. You can also complain on behalf of someone else if you have their permission in writing.

What is the time limit for making complaints?

You should complain within 1 year of the event happening or within 1 year of becoming aware of the event. This time limit can be extended if there are good reasons why you could not complain earlier, and it is still possible to investigate the complaint effectively and fairly.

First stage: local resolution

Local resolution aims to sort out your complaint quickly and fairly. Our complaints’ manager will talk to you about how to resolve your complaint. This will include setting a time limit for your complaint to be investigated and a response made. Please include your telephone number if you write to us so that we can contact you. If you have already complained to your healthcare provider, we will not be able to re-investigate the same concerns.

Second stage: independent review

If you are not happy with how we have dealt with your complaint, and would like to take the matter further, you can contact the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. They make the final decisions on complaints that have not been satisfactorily resolved by public organisations. The service is free for everyone. To make a complaint, go to the Health Service Ombudsman website or call 0345 015 4033.

Page last reviewed: 11 January 2024

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