How do I complain about my GP?

5 Min Read

If you feel you have received negligent treatment from your GP you have a right to complain. Making a complaint is important because it helps GP to know what is going wrong. You may want to speak to him or her first, and an informal approach may be enough. However, if that does not help and you feel that you need to make a formal complaint, this guide will help you understand the process.

Your GP’s surgery will have a complaints procedure. You can ask for it at reception or look on their website.

Who should I complain to About my GP?

Make your complaint to the Practice Manager or to your GP.

When should I complain about negligence?

You should complain within 12 months of the incident, but if you have a good reason for taking longer, you may still be able to make your complaint. Sometimes surgeries will deal with late complains even if you do not have good reason for delay.

How should I complain?

You can send a letter or an email. You can also complain verbally (in person or by telephone). The practice should then make a record of your complaint and let you have a copy, but it is better if possible to make a written complaint. Try to be polite even if you feel upset.

Can I complain on behalf of someone else?

You can complain on behalf of someone else but you will need their written agreement. Ask them to sign a form which says:

‘I [give their full name] of [give their full address] born on [give their date of birth] authorise [give your full name] to make a complaint on my behalf. I agree to you giving confidential information about my condition and treatment to [give your name].’

What should I say in my complaint?

  1. Say that you are making a formal complaint and ask for an investigation.
  2. Tell the story of what has happened. Focus on what is most important to you. Try not to give so much detail that the important parts get lost.
  3. If possible, give the dates that things happened on.
  4. Summarise the main things that concern you which you would like investigated. It is best to number the points to help the surgery make sure each point is answered.
  5. Ask for an investigation and a written response within a set period. 5 weeks is probably a reasonable period for a response.

Will My GP Respond, and What Will They Say?

You should receive a letter to acknowledge your complaint. The surgery may suggest a different time-scale for its reply, but there is no set timetable. Be reasonable in agreeing a time limit. You may then be invited to a meeting to discuss your complaint or you may be sent a detailed written reply.

If you are considering making a claim it is best to ask for a written reply. We can then look at it for you. If you prefer to go to a meeting ask for minutes to be made and given to you. We can look at the minutes for you.

What if I am not happy with the response?

If the surgery does not deal with your complaint or you are not happy with the response, you can complain to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. You can find details at or can telephone 0345 015 4033. If you are in Wales you can complain to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. You can find details at or you can telephone 0300 790 0203. (There are different systems for Scotland and Northern Ireland.)

I want to make a claim. Should I make a complaint first?

If you are thinking of making a claim we suggest you contact us before making a complaint. It may be helpful to complain. But if you are going to make a claim it is best not to delay. Investigating a claim takes time and it is better that we start sooner rather than later.

What is the time limit for making a claim?

If you need to issue court proceedings, a claim form must be issued within 3 years of the date of the incident you think was negligent. However please bear in mind that investigating a claim takes time and there is a lot for us to do before we issue proceedings. Sometimes the 3 year period runs from when you knew (or should have known) that you suffered harm from something you now say was negligent. The law here is complicated. If you think the time limit is more than 3 years from the date of the incident please check with us urgently.

Will it cost me anything to ask you about a claim?

No. Contact us today and we will be happy to talk to you about whether you have a claim.