How we investigate complaints - what to expect

Stage 1 - receipt of your complaint

On receipt of your complaint, we undertake initial checks to ensure:

  • That we have the patient’s full details to enable us to identify the correct health records.
  • That consent to share is obtained if the complaint relates to any external organisations, to enable us to provide a single complaint response.
  • That the complaint is made within twelve months of the event.

If we have a contact telephone number for you, we will attempt to contact you to discuss the handling of your concerns.

  • We will acknowledge receipt of your complaint in writing within three working days from receipt.
  • We will request consent to disclose confidential information (if required). 
  • We will seek consent for the Trust to use the complaint as an opportunity to learn and make improvements for the benefit of future patients.
  • We will identify a single point of contact for the duration of the complaint investigation.
  • We will advise of the timescale in which we aim to provide our reply or to have met with you.

Stage 2 - the complaint investigation

During the complaint investigation:

  • A thorough investigation is carried out by a nominated investigator.
  • If any further information is required, the investigator will contact you directly to discuss this.
  • If we are delayed in our response, we will write to you at four weekly intervals to provide an update.

Stage 3 - the Trust's response

Investigation outcomes:

Having completed our investigation we will provide you with a response either in writing or (if appropriate) during a recorded complaint meeting.

From the complaints process NHS organisations can:

  • Carry out an investigation and offer an explanation for what happened.
  • Offer an apology or some other statement of regret.
  • Learn from your complaint, take steps to put matters right and assure you that they have done so.

What we cannot do

The complaints procedure cannot look at disciplinary issues, for example, whether a staff member should be sacked, 'strike off' a health professional or suspend their registration, or look at complaints about treatment provided privately unless it was paid for by the NHS.

Our assurance to you

The Trust will take your complaint seriously.

Your complaint is not kept in your medical notes, so it will not affect your future care in any way.

NUH values your opinion and we are committed to learning from all of the complaints we receive.  To improve the service we provide we share anonymised complaints at a range of forums - including sharing with ward teams, at safety meetings, at public Trust Board meetings, on the Trust’s website and the Internet (public); we share our learning and improvements more widely with our patients, local community and staff.

What if I have further questions or if I am still not happy?

If you have further questions or simply require a further explanation regarding part of the response:

  • Please come back to us within four weeks of receipt and we will be pleased to provide further clarification or arrange for you to speak with the investigator


If you are dissatisfied with the response:

  • Please write to the Chief Executive detailing the aspects of your complaint that you do not feel our response fully addressed, we can reopen your complaint.


You can request an independent review of your complaint.  To do this you will need to contact the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), requesting a review. You must do this within 12 months of our response. The PHSO will not investigate your case before you have received our response. You can contact the PHSO through their website: