Maternity negligence – Making an complaint to the NHS


A Quick Guide- NHS Complaints Procedure

This post intends to provide a brief guide and explanation as to how the NHS resolve complaints and set right unfair situations for complainants.

  1. About the complaints procedure


  • The NHS complaints procedure is governed by the Local Authority, Social Services and National Health Complaint (England) Regulations 2009.
  • The rules contained in these regulations set out the obligations on the part of NHS when dealing with complaints.
  • These NHS complaints system is designed to provide:
  • Explanations on what happened to cause the complaint.
  • If appropriate, the relevant apologies for instigating the complaint.
  • Information about action taken to prevent similar incidents happening.
  • Since 2009, the NHS complaints process involves two stages:
  • The issue is resolved at local level by an NHS provider.
  • The complaint is reviewed by the Health Service Ombudsman (a government official appointed to investigate complaints made against organisations).
  • When engaging with a solicitor it is also worth noting that complaint documentation and the findings of professional bodies can form an important part of the solicitor’s risk assessment before deciding whether to take on a case on behalf of a client making a complaint to the NHS.
  • For further information regarding solicitors and the current law in clinical negligence claims please click here.
  • The service providers that are covered by the NHS complaints procedure include:
  • All NHS and NHS Foundation Trusts.
  • GPs, dentist, opticians and pharmacists working within the NHS.
  • Private healthcare services paid for by the NHS.


  1. The Process


  • Ask the NHS provider in question for a copy of its complaints procedure, which will explain exactly how to proceed with a complaint.
  • A complaint can be made orally, in writing or electronically, but all must be answered in writing and it is advisable to make a complaint in writing and addressed to the chief executive.
  • The complainant should include what the complaint is about, where and when the event happened which caused the complaint and who was involved.
  • It is advisable to include what the complainant would like to achieve as a result of the complaint.
  • The relevant healthcare provider must provide a response to the complaint within three working days after receiving the complaint and in that response the complainant should be told the following:



  • Of an opportunity to discuss the complaint, for example at a meeting.
  • Information about the way in which the complaint is going to be investigated.
  • The time period within which the investigation of the complaint is likely to be completed.
  • At the end of the investigation the complainant receives a formal written response.



  1. Potential Outcomes


  • Concerning the potential outcome of the NHS complaint procedure, the complainant will receive a written response from either the NHS provider (if stage one was initiated) or the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (if stage two was initiated).
  • A meeting, conciliation or mediation may be offered.
  • Conciliation/Mediation- refer to the action of settling a dispute through formal intervention.
  • If necessary, referral to the statutory bodies including for example, the General Medical Council (GMC) or Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) could be made.
  • Referral for inspection could be made.
  • A recommendation that no further action be taken could be made.


  1. Appeals


  • It is possible for an individual to challenge the refusal to investigate or the findings of a trust. The process involves an application for judicial review.
  • However, the time and costs involved need to be carefully considered before applying for judicial review.

Contact the child injury solicitorsIf you have suffered from maternity negligence or any over clinical negligence then you might be entitled to compensation. At R James Hutcheon Solicitors we can provide practical legal advice and also support families during difficult times. With over 20 years of litigation experience we can fight for the answers you want and compensation you deserve. We can be instructed on a no win no fee basis meaning there is no financial risk. Please visit our dedicated maternity negligence website for further information.