Complaints are not negative. In fact, constructive complaints are vital in promoting dignity. If no-one complains about poor care, organisations and staff are unlikely prioritise improvements and, in some cases, may be unaware of the inadequacies or failings in the care they are providing.

When made in the here and now, complaints can enable organisations and staff to swiftly take action to rectify lapses in care. Where this is not possible and the incident has passed, the complaint can help ensure that similar incidents will not occur in the future and provide organisations and staff with feedback on areas for improvement.

There are lots of things people can do if they see someone being treated without dignity and respect.

  • Where possible, approach frontline staff, a matron or manager first to see if the problem can be resolved at an early stage - if you complain that your breakfast is cold, you don't want to go through the complaints procedure - you want a hot lunch
  • If the problem cannot be resolved informally, ask for a copy of the organisation's complaints procedure. Every NHS and Social Care Organisation should have one.

If you need advice and support in taking forward a complaint you can get that through the Department of Health complaints page (opens new window); charities such as Independent Age (opens new window); through the Patient Advice and Liaison Services (PALS) (opens new window) available in all NHS Trusts; or through local advocacy services.


  • Complaints Posters
    These posters/slides can be used to promote a culture of using complaints to make a positive impact on care services. There are three posters in powerpoint format - please feel free to download and...