Complaints Procedures

If you are dissatisfied with the way you have been treated by Social Services, the Health Service or by a service provider it is your right to make a formal complaint. However, it is always advisable initially to discuss your problems with someone from the organisation or body concerned – in an attempt to resolve things informally. If, however, you do decide to make a formal complaint, every service-providing organisation must have a defined procedure for handling such matters.

They will have a printed Complaints Procedure, which should set out things like:

  • How to make your complaint.
  • How it will be dealt with.
  • Who will deal with it.
  • The timescales for dealing with the complaint.
  • The reviewing process, if you are not happy with the outcome.


Where large organisations such as Social Services, a hospital, or health authority are concerned there should be a designated person to deal with complaints. Smaller organisations such as a nursing home or care agency should identify a senior manager to take responsibility for dealing with and resolving complaints.Your local authority should also be able to suggest someone (usually called an ‘advocate’) who will be able to help you to make a complaint and to present your point of view.

It should also be noted that, in the event of an unsatisfactory resolution of matters with a health authority, you can contact the Health Service Ombudsman. Telephone the Helpline on 0845 015 4033. Or visit

Although the various service providers will have their own complaints procedures some of the national providers’ organisations such as the United Kingdom Home Care Association (UKHCA) set standards for their membership and will have a complaints system you can make use of.

If your complaint relates to a care home, The Relatives and Residents Association is also a useful contact point: write to 24 The Ivories, 6-18 Northampton Street, London N1 2HY. Telephone advice line 020 7359 8136 or view the website Almost all health and social care services – whether they are provided by the authorities or by independent private or voluntary organisations – are now required to be properly registered and regulated.


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