Your questions answered

Your questions answered (frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How do I make a complaint about a health or social care service?

The NHS Constitution guarantees your right to complain if you have concerns about healthcare. More information about how to make a complaint and the complaints process can be found in our downloadable advice leaflet, How to make a complaint, which can be found at the link below:

How to make a complaint

Can I report my concerns about my treatment or care to the Care Quality Commission (CQC)?

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England CQC inspects healthcare providers, for example, GP practices, hospitals (including private hospitals), clinics and nursing and residential homes in order to ensure that health and social care services are safe, effective and of a high standard.

The CQC do not investigate individual complaints, however, they are keen to receive feedback from patients about their experience of care, both positive and negative feedback is encouraged. The CQC may use your information to inform their next inspection and in some cases they will bring an inspection forward.

The Patients Association can give your feedback to the CQC if you call us on 020 8423 8999, or you can do this yourself by going to the CQC’s website at the link below where you can complete their online feedback form. Please select the Patients Association in the section where it asks, ‘How Did You Hear About This Form’:

In Wales the body responsible for conducting inspections is the Healthcare Inspectorate Wales. More information about their role is available on their website and you can leave your feedback about your patient experience here:

In Scotland the body responsible for inspections is The Healthcare Environment Inspectorate (HEI). If you would like to leave feedback about your experience of healthcare in Scotland please go to the link below:

In Northern Ireland the body responsible for conducting inspections is the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA). If you would like to leave feedback about your experience of healthcare in Ireland please go to the link below:

I or my family have mental health needs. Where can I get help?

We would advise that you discuss your mental health needs with your GP to find out what options are open to you. Your GP may prescribe medication or refer you to receive other treatment, for example counselling.  If it is related to the mental health of a friend or family member encourage them to talk to their GP if they will do so in the first instance. The mental health charity MIND has more information on how best to support people with mental health needs:

There are other organisations who specialise in supporting people affected by mental health issues. You can contact the organisations listed below.

Rethink Mental Illness

Rethink provides free Information and advice about various topics from medication to the Mental Health Act. They can also help you to find support in your local area. Rethink are unable to help you if you are in crisis. More information about their service is available on the link below:


MIND provides information and support to anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. They have a helpline that can answer various questions you may have. The can also put you in touch with their local groups, 0300 123 3393. If you need general advice on mental health related law you can call their legal line on 0300 466 6463.

If something is troubling and you need to talk it through, the Samaritans helpline is available 24 hours a day and can be contacted free of charge on 116 123.

My GP referred me to a hospital consultant for treatment and I seem to have been waiting a long time for my appointment. What can I do?

From the date your GP refers you to a consultant for treatment there is a maximum waiting time of 2 weeks for your treatment to start if you have been diagnosed with cancer and a maximum of 18 weeks where the diagnosis is of any other condition. The maximum waiting times are not legally enforceable, but rather, are targets that the NHS has set itself. These waiting times are also included within the NHS Constitution as rights for patients in accessing NHS treatment.

If your waiting time has been exceeded, or if it is near and your treatment hasn’t begun, we would advise you to contact the hospital to ask whether you may be offered a cancellation. You can do this by either contacting the waiting list team at the hospital or the PALS department who can assist in finding out when your treatment will start. You can also return to your GP to let them know that your treatment hasn’t begun. You can ask your GP to refer you to another hospital where you can be seen more quickly, this can be within the NHS or private sector. Where the GP refers you to another hospital, your previous waiting time will be taken into account, in other words, you will not go back to the beginning of the process.

More information about waiting times for treatment can be found on the NHS Choices website at the following link:

How do I see my medical records that are held by my GP or a hospital?

You are legally entitled to obtain a copy of your medical records. More information about your right to see and to obtain a copy can be found on the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) website at the link below:

We have a useful downloadable advice leaflet on our website called, Seeing Your Medical Records, which gives helpful advice about how to make a request to see your medical records and how to obtain a copy of them. Please click on the link below:

The NHS Choices website also has a helpful page about how to request medical records:

How do I find an NHS Dentist?

NHS Choices has a helpful webpage where you can search for a dental practice using your postcode to find the nearest dental practice that is taking NHS patients. The webpage also contains details of the distance of the practice from your address and informative reviews and feedback that has been left by other patients. Please click on the link below:

I’m thinking of paying for private healthcare. Is there anything that I should be aware of?

We would recommend that before you decide upon obtaining private healthcare from a particular provider, you discuss your treatment options with your GP, and find out what is available on the NHS and the waiting times. Some private hospitals will require a referral from your GP for a consultation.

You may also wish to make sure that you have enough funding to cover the treatment cost as it can be very expensive, unless you have a private medical insurance. You also need to check that you are able to cover any unexpected additional costs, for example if a longer stay in hospital or additional tests are required.

If you do decide to upon obtaining private healthcare you may also wish to check there is a complaints procedure for your chosen healthcare provider, just in case things don’t go as planned.  It may be advisable to find out whether they are a subscriber to the trade association, The Independent Sector Complaints Adjudication Service (ISCAS). In the event that you wish to raise concerns about your treatment, private providers who are subscribers to ISCAS have signed up to a code of conduct which includes having a complaints procedure, the final stage of which will involve ISCAS investigating and making a decision about your complaint. To see if your private healthcare provider is a subscriber to ISCAS, please go to their website at the following link:

Information about how to find a private healthcare provider can be found by going to the link below:


Not quite answered your question?  Visit our helpline page to get in touch with one of our team.