Written by

Fiona Swarbrick - Associate, Head of Medical Negligence

Every year, the NHS publishes information about the number of written complaints they receive, and the data shows a count of written complaints made by patients. In this article, we will be summarising the key findings and statistics. The data reported by the NHS shows all complaints received between 1 April 2022 and 31 March 2023. 


Are NHS Complaints Increasing? 


The total number of all reported written complaints received by the NHS did increase in 2022 – 23 compared to 2021 – 22. In 2022-23, there were a total of 229,458 recorded complaints, this was an increase of 3,888 complaints compared to 2021-22 where there were 225,570 recorded complaints


According to NHS data, the following areas all had an increase in complaints in 2022 – 23 compared to 2021 – 22:  


  • Access to treatment or drugs – 6.4% increase
  • Appointments – including delays or cancellations – 3.3% increase 
  • Integrated care – 3.7% increase
  • Mortuary and post-mortem arrangements – 12.3% increase
  • Prescribing errors – 7.4% increase 
  • Restraint – 34.7% increase 
  • Staffing numbers – 24.2% increase 
  • Trust administration – 17.1% increase
  • Waiting Times – 16.4% increase
  • A&E – 1.8% increase
  • Anaesthetics – 15.5% increase
  • Dental Group – 35.6% increase
  • Obstetrics and gynaecology – 1.6% increase
  • Paediatric group – 10.2% increase
  • Radiology group – 1.5% increase


What Is The Most Common Complaint Received By The NHS?

In 2022-23, the most common recorded complaint was related to communications with a total of 30,384 complaints in 2022-23. The amount of complaints relating to communications has decreased by 7.3% compared to 2021-22, however it is still the most common complaint received by the NHS. 


According to the NHS, “Good patient communication is key, particularly when a patient is waiting for planned care or treatment. From referral by a primary care clinician through to discharge from secondary care – clear accessible communication is vital throughout.” Communication within the NHS is extremely important and poor communication can result in a range of outcomes from inconvenience to treatment errors. 


Areas With High Amounts Of Complaints Received By The NHS


Other areas with high amounts of complaints include the following: 


Time is extremely valuable when it comes to identifying, diagnosing and treating medical conditions so it is extremely important that patients have their medical appointments as soon as possible. A delay or cancellation for an appointment can potentially lead to more health complications and issues for the patient. For more information on negligent delays, you can visit our Negligent Delay Claims Page


Surgery is quite common in the UK and the majority of surgeries are performed without any complications, however, there are instances where surgery doesn’t go as planned and complications can occur. As a result, the NHS has received over 9,000 complaints between 2022-23. Some surgical complications can take place as a result of no one’s fault, however, some can be due to negligence and this can potentially cause further health implications for the patient. If this is the case, the patient may be entitled to make a surgical negligence claim and receive compensation. 


On average, 45,000 people visit major A&E departments each day in England, and a further 25,000 people on average attend minor A&E facilities, such as a walk in centre, therefore making A&E units across the country extremely busy. Unfortunately, this means that mistakes can and do occur, clearly shown by the 8,778 complaints received. If you have not received care that is up to standard in A&E and have suffered due to this, you may be able to make an A&E negligence claim as well as a complaint to give you peace of mind and recover any financial losses.  


Why NHS Complaints Matter


Complaining to the NHS when something has gone wrong is an individual’s right but it is also vital for continuous improvement for the NHS. By submitting a complaint, patients are providing the NHS with valuable feedback that can highlight issues, identify areas for improvement, and ultimately enhance the quality of care for all patients. Complaints also contribute to transparency and continuous learning with the NHS which is extremely important. As stated by the NHS, “Feedback helps us improve the quality of your care.” Ultimately, speaking up about your experience, whether it was positive or negative, helps to shape a better healthcare system and ensure all patients’ concerns are taken seriously. 


The NHS takes complaints extremely seriously and will investigate them thoroughly to provide better outcomes for all patients. 


How To Make An NHS Complaint 


If you are looking to make an NHS complaint, you can either complain to your healthcare provider, the organisation where you received the NHS service, for example your GP. Or, you can make a complaint to the commissioner, this is the organisation that pays for the service or care you received. 


You can complain by writing, emailing, or by speaking to someone within the organisation and anyone can make a complaint, including young people, or you can have someone complain on your behalf with your permission, this could be a family member or carer for example. When making a complaint, you should make sure that you complain within 12 months of the incident occurring so that your complaint can be investigated. 


To find out more about how to make a complaint to the NHS, you can read our articles on how to make a complaint here


Medical Negligence Claims 


When it comes to NHS complaints, many will stem from dissatisfaction with the care that they have received, however some complaints can come from issues that have led to a worsened medical condition or harm caused to a patient, and in this case, the patient may also be able to make an NHS negligence claim


If you have received care from the NHS that is below the standard level of accepted care, you may be able to make a claim. Whether it is due to a delayed or cancelled appointment, waiting times, communication errors, or an error at A&E, if you have suffered, get in touch with us today and we can help you make a claim and get the compensation you deserve.

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