Feedback, complaints, getting involved, to improve services

You have the right to give feedback or make a complaint about any aspect of NHS service.

There's more information about NHS feedback and complaints on the NHS inform website. There's also information for young people about feedback and complaints on the NHS inform website.

What difference can I make?

Listening to everyone’s voice and learning from their experiences is vital to improve  health and social care services.  Everyone has something unique to share. Services will only improve  to  support everyone who uses them if they can hear everyone's views and experience.  That includes you!

It can be empowering to share your thoughts and ideas and know that you’re helping to shape health services for the better, for everyone who needs them. Even if you have little time to spare, just a few minutes answering a survey or sending in your views can have a positive impact.

If you have a little more time, patient participation groups are a great way to get involved and can open the door to a whole new range of experiences and people to meet.

People often find that being able to share their thoughts and make an impact can lead to increased confidence and wellbeing, new friends and networks. You can gain new knowledge and skills as well. 

Connecting with other people and hearing about their experiences can be helpful and informative too. You may find out things that are beneficial for your own health or conditions you live with.


Take action

Getting involved can have a lot of positive outcomes, for you, for services, and for research too.

To get started, try these next steps:

  • Share your experiences of health and care, good or bad, with the Care Opinion website.

This short video explains how Care Opinion works.


  • Ask at your local GP surgery or hospital about their patient participation group (PPG) opportunities



  • Use the ALISS directory of support groups to find out about opportunities to get involved and share your experience with others.



Making a complaint

Complaints about NHS services

You have the right to  make a complaint about any aspect of NHS service using the NHS patient feedback and complaints procedure.

To complain, you must:

  • have had or be having NHS care or treatment
  • have visited or used NHS services or facilities
  • have been affected, or be likely to be affected, by something that NHS staff have or haven’t done.

You can complain about any aspect of NHS service you've received from a hospital, GP practice, NHS dentist, ambulance or other NHS service. If you're in doubt about whether you can make a complaint, you can contact the Patient Advice and Support Service (PASS)

If you want to make a complaint, this guidance from Citizens Advice Scotland tells you how to go about it.

Complaints about professional misconduct

If you think an NHS practitioner is guilty of professional misconduct, you might be able to complain to the practitioner's professional or regulatory body. If a practitioner is found guilty of professional misconduct, they can be stopped from practising in the future.

This leaflet - Who regulates health and social care professionals?   on the General Medical Council (GMC) website outlines which regulatory body is responsible for monitoring each profession and what regulation means. It also provides contact details for all the regulatory bodies.

The GMC has other information about concerns and complaints about doctors. There's also a leaflet called 'What to expect from your doctor: a guide for patients'.


Equality and human rights


The Equality Act published in 2010 legally protects people from unfair treatment because of any of the following ‘protected characteristics:’

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation.

The Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) website provides more information about these protected characteristics.

The Equality Act states that it is unlawful to treat an individual less favourably, or unfavourably, because of their protected characteristic. Examples could include:

  • Being excluded from something
  • Refusal of service
  • Being deprived of a choice
  • If you are at a disadvantage compared to other service users
  • Poor quality of service compared to others.

If you feel that you have experienced treatment like this, then the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) can support you to understand your rights and provide guidance to help you address this.

Human rights

Human rights set out the basic rights and freedoms that belong to everyone. These are documented within the Human Rights Act 1998.

All public bodies, including local governments and health services, must do all they can to protect your human rights. They must ensure those rights are not infringed upon or interfered with, without justifiable cause.


A local authority is considering moving an individual with dementia into a care home due to concerns about their mental capacity.

Under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, the local authority has to consider if it would be removing the individual from their home against their will. If so, is the authority interfering with the individual’s right to a private life, which includes a right to autonomy, a family life and even the right to the home they already have.

Article 8 within the Human Rights Act does allow for interference. However, in order for the interference to be justified the local authority has to show:

  • It had the legal right to take that action
  • The action was for legitimate reasons 
  • It was a proportionate way to achieve a legitimate aim.

The Human Rights Act includes many Articles. You can read about these on the EASS website.  Contact EASS for further guidance.

How do I raise a concern if I feel an organisation has breached my rights?

You have the right to raise this concern to the organisation. Consider why you feel you have been treated differently. What happened that made you feel that way?

It’s good practice to write things down. This helps you to collect any evidence you can. Note down the dates you engaged with the service, who you spoke to, what they said etc.

Is there a timescale for legal action?

There are legal time frames for taking an equality or human rights case to court and it is very important you keep this in mind if you wish to go down the legal route later.

For cases of discrimination that fall within the Equality Act 2010 the legal timescale is six months less one day from the date the discriminatory incident happened in the sector of services and public functions.

For cases that fall under the Human Rights Act 1998, the legal timescale is one year from which the action that potentially breached your human rights took place.

However, due to the complexity of human rights cases it is best to speak to a legal professional. They will help to determine your legal timescale. Various factors could affect this – for example, the type of case.