/ Health

Have you ever complained about your doctor or hospital?

People leaving hospital

One year on from the Francis Inquiry, there are still significant problems with consumers choosing not to complain about public services because they don’t know who to complain to or think nothing will be done.

With public service reform high on the policy agenda, our research shows more needs to be done to ensure consumers feel empowered and their voices are heard.

We’ve found there are three key reasons why people do not complain when they have a problem with public services: scepticism that their complaint will have any impact, fear of repercussions, and lack of understanding about how to complain.

Will complaining about my doctor really help?

Four in 10 people who had had a recent problem with a specialist consultant in a hospital did not complain. Of these, almost six in 10 said the reason was that they thought nothing would be done and four in 10 thought it wouldn’t be worth the effort.

A third of people said that they were worried complaining might lead to worse service or treatment for them or their family member and 27% said gave the same reason for not complaining about a GP. One in five didn’t complain when they had a problem with a specialist consultant because they didn’t know how to complain or who to complain to.

The best private sector organisations actively encourage and welcome feedback so it’s worrying to see so many barriers to consumers speaking up in public services.

And it’s not just within the NHS. Just two thirds (65%) of those who had cause to complain about an NHS service in the last year did so, and a similar percentage (69%) complained about another Government service such as the DVLA or HMRC. Yet 90% of people complained about a high street retailer when in a similar situation, 89% about a bank or tradesperson and 83% about an energy supplier.

Our research has also shown that people’s fears that they won’t be listened to are perhaps justified as, even when people do complain, perceived resolution of complaints is lower in public services. Almost six in 10 people who complained to an NHS or Government service felt their complaint was not resolved at the initial stage, in comparison with 42% for energy suppliers and banks and 30% for high street retailers.

Inspect services with high levels of complaints

While the Government has announced new measures around complaints since the public inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust, Which? is calling for three further steps to be taken to help drive up consumer power in public services:

  • An automatic trigger for regulators to inspect any service with abnormally high levels of unresolved consumer complaints or where users demand an inspection.
  • A single public services ombudsman should be introduced so consumers know exactly where to take their complaint.
  • Super complaint powers expanded and strengthened to the equivalent of those in private markets.

It’s clear that more must be done to ensure that patients and their families use their power to help drive up standards in public services. Hearing feedback from people is essential to deliver the high standards that we all deserve. We need to see changes across all public services to improve complaints handling and give people the confidence that their voices will be both heard and acted upon.


A few years ago I did make a complaint about my local GP, but I have to admit I didn’t really do anything about it. I didn’t really know much about complaining & it felt like too much work.

But now, in 2014, I know how to kick-off and make a complaint so if it happened now then I would take the complaint as far as i possibly could, as I have learned how to complain and win. Stuff that I didn’t know a few years ago.


When my dad went in for a triple heart bypass a few years ago, that part of his stay went fine. What we have issues with were, they knew he was a type 2 diabetic yet they still insisted on feeding him the same swill as everyone else. That wouldn’t have been a problem if it was wholemeal rolls, non sugary drinks, puddings etc. But when you raise the issue with staff, it was we’re the NHS we know what we’re doing, well they certainly didn’t cos when it was time for him to leave they couldn’t work out why his blood sugar level was sky high. My mum has been feeding him and his diabetes for over 20 years and not once has his blood sugar level reached that high. So he ended up staying in for an extra 2 weeks, will they tried to work out what was up. In the end he ignored the food the hospital provided and was only eating the food smuggled in by my mum. Funnily his blood sugar returned to normal. He wasn’t helped by being inactive but surely the NHS should know all that stuff, and they should certainly listen to their “customers”. They’re not as bright as they’d have you believe.

In their drive to cut costs, they end up wasting more because of the cheap poor nutritional sugar enriched food they serve.

About 5 years ago I had terrible IBS (trust me it was terrible) and in addition ended up having a nervous breakdown (not due to the IBS but I’d bet it was the same reason for the IBS), in all my visits to the doctor all they focused on was my weight. Well my weight hasn’t changed but I’m now no longer employed, and guess what I’ve been IBS and breakdown free for over 3 years now. I knew it was work but the doctor wasn’t interested in that.

Reminds me of a cartoon I once saw, large man goes into a doctors surgery with a gunshot wound. Doctor says “lose some weight and you’ll be fine in no time”.

Completely missing the obvious.

Campbell McPherson says:
15 February 2014

This is typical of the NHS. In the Italian medical system (at least in good hospitals) your diet is strictly controlled according to your medical condition and -if relevant- the surgery.

I had a gall bladder operation a couple of years ago and – disregarding the small issue of a massive infection- my Italian wife was horrified to find me being stuffed with fatty foods the day after the op.

Try complaining? It gives a new meaning to arrogance


When my GP retired she was replaced by a new GP. I was very disappointed that the new GP gave some advice that I knew to be wrong and also failed to complete a ‘yellow card’ to report a potential problem with a new drug. I should have complained about these and other issues but I was not aware of the procedure at the time, so just switched my GP.

That was years ago, but the GP mentioned above is still practising and I have heard of many complaints by others. There are some bad reviews about the GP and surgery on the NHS website.

I chose my present GP surgery based on recommendations and have not been disappointed. The reviews on the NHS website are good too.


My daughter had a very poor consultation with one doctor at our health centre. Back home she complained to the health centre manager who had another doctor phone her; he correctly diagnosed her problem with reference to a website that matched her symptoms. Complaining informally to your practice management is a good place to start.


I was advised to do this, but when I called the surgery and requested a consultation I was refused – I have been complaining vehemently regarding a massive weight gain of 8 stone!! – now my legs have increased in size four fold – I walk 70 miles per month with my little dog and I have been told the massive weight gain in my legs is due to extra muscle – I am completely at my wits end as to know where to go next – I feel I am being drugged without my consent – and that there are those that are doing this maliciously – either the doctors are lying to me or they are being lied to themselves – my doctors have a very good standing and personally are very pleasant people but 8 stone weight gain and morbidly obese – a life time of exercise including yoga walking, sports clubs, jogging and eating health foods (not over eating health foods as it has been stated as an explanation – I would welcome any suggestions as to where might turn for a credible explanation – the ultr sound – and numerous other scans and blood tests I am told are all “normal”

Katy says:
23 June 2017

You need to change surgery. Anyone is able to do this. You don’t have to give an explanation. There are also options to see a private GP, just once to try and find out what is going on. Check out the side-effects of any medicines you’ve been prescribed. You can look online also yourself to see the side-effects and even speak to the drug company customer services and explain the situation.

Debra Barlow says:
10 February 2014

I tried to complain about my GP after I’d ended up seriously ill in hospital when my GP had refused to visit me at home. I wrote a complaint to the practice and was invited to a meeting. It was explained to me that if I took the complaint further I would need to seek another surgery as my complaint was deemed against the practice. I felt I was on a hiding to nothing as the GP clearly stated that though he accepted and was sorry I’d become so ill it was primarily up to me to demand a home visit. It was clear neither he nor he practice was going to accept any responsibility and as I was still recovering and am now left with life changing problems I didn’t have the strength to continue

emma says:
2 March 2014

There are too many people going into the profession for just the money. Becoming a GP is a nice option as a lot of surgeries work office hours and have locums working the evening and weekend shifts. It really shows a lack of care. If they then do something wrong as in your case Debra they do not have the courtesy to say sorry but act high and mighty and have a how do you dare to complain attitude. So you are left wondering what to do. Your treatment was appalling and an apology would have been in order but they feel they are above the rest of us and at the same time are worried you might file a claim. Feels like a no win situation.


@ emma

If I have any doubt abt the treatment that I receive,
I shall not hesitate to insist on referral to consultant
for an independent opinion and for better expertise…. no longer
shall put up trying medication A if not B, C and so on that practices
are keen to encourage… downside is this may require
a long wait unless time is very much of the essence.


Argonaut, I suspect many older people remember days when the doctor was a bit of a god, and you took his advice at face value and didn’t challenge him. Now, with better knowledge and the internet, we know a bit more ourselves (often dangerous!) but can discuss with our doctor. Our experience has been good in this respect – second opinion no problem, who would you like to consult? – participation welcomed by our doctor. Happy to discuss alternative treatments or drugs. And, if necessary, being a little firmer moved things on. Maybe we are lucky, but I think better informed patients who are prepared to stand their ground have more success than those who don’t.


Compared with my experience, you have indeed been “lucky”, Malcolm R.

I have been a “better informed patient, prepared to stand my ground” for many years and for my efforts been repeatedly shown the door with yet more more ambiguous and damaging innuendo added to my so-called medical history.


At our local health centre we have a PPG (Patients Participation Group) which is run in conjunction with GP’s and patients. It is operated on-line and we receive regular bulletins and questionnaires to answer about any grievances or suggestions which may improve the general running of the practice.

My main concern regarding the NHS is the way in which it is gradually being “sold off” to the private sector. Public funding is increasingly being paid into private companies who are accountable to their shareholders at the expense of our NHS hospitals.

[This comment has been edited to remove an external link. Thanks, mods.]


In November 2009 I made comments on an NHS website about hygiene and privacy at my gp surgery. The practice posted a response 3 1/2 years later!


Some years ago I realised that an elderly relative was being given an inappropriate drug when in hospital. I reported this to two nurses and two GPs during my visits, but no action was taken. Eventually, after discussing the matter with a relative with medical training I amended the patient’s drug sheet. When I next visited I was told that my relative had been suffering a problem, but would probably recover now that one of the drugs had been withdrawn.

I don’t want to give more details on a public forum.


A couple of months ago it was announced that patients would get a named doctor to oversee their care when in hospital.

I would suggest that that they need to extend that to the Intermediate care teams, I’ve heard of one patient who after 5 months of immediate care got so fed up of not knowing who was visiting her that day, that the care was removed.

My mother has had 5 different carers over 2 days since her problems at the weekend. Fortunately she can cope with the changes but not everyone can.


Intrigued by this “named doctor” business. Almost 10 years ago there was a “named nurse” in hospital system. Unfortunately in our experience the named nurse was only seen on the day of admission. There were also two teams of nurses – a blue team and a red team. They swapped around and so they got to see different patients but unfortunately this meant that there was no continuity of care.


The reason that many people, including those actually working in the NHS, do not compain about standards of care is fear of retribution.

Within the civil aviation sector there is a system known as CHIRP (Confidential Human factors Incident Reporting Programme, see http://www.chirp.co.uk) which enables those working in the area to report problems, particularly those relating to safety, without fear of retribution. Control of CHIRP is through a charitable trust in order to ensure independence and confidentiality. Once a problem has been resolved the results are published in freely available newsletters, anyone can download them from the web. Perhaps it should be added that those making reports are required to identify themselves although this information is never passed on.

The existence of such a system means that people working in the sector are more likely to report problems. There is also a similar system in the marine sector known as the Confidential Hazardous Incident Reporting Programme.

Is it not possible to come up with a system on these lines for the NHS, and other public bodies for that matter, so that staff and patients/relatives are able to report problems in confidence? It is necessary to emphasise that any such system must be independent in order to ensure confidentiality; that investigations should be rigorous; and that reports on problems and solutions should be made freely available to the public. Failure to meet these criteria would mean that those with problems to report would not trust the integrity of the system.

Frank says:
14 February 2014

about 20 years ago, just after John Major announced the citizen’s charter I complained about my GP.
I was unceremoniously told to leave the group practice and the first new practise I applied to rejected me. Word must have got around.
I asked my Chiropractor to recommend a GP and I have been happy with them since.


If your complaint [ to the GMC] falls into a certain category, it will be solved ” inhouse” and you will not be informed of subsequent liability to you. If its too dangerous to persue in that manner then liability will presumably[reluctantly] be admitted.

Fred King says:
14 February 2014

I did try to complain about theb ad service my brother received from both nursing/medical and social work staff when he was in hospital..The internal social services discussion was very [poor, When I went to go to Ombudsman I was then told i would first need a response from the hospital satff. But Social Services kept sending documents to a non-existenty address. So it was more than a year later than t I received a very vague response from the hospital. then i was told social Services had the right to ask for an independent inspection before i could send documents for full appraisal by Ombudsman. My brother’s daughter gave up at that point and I felt unable to carry on especially as i was a Social Worker in that Social Services authority!
When my brother went in again into hospital 18 months later the treatmentt was even worse (by now he had leg removed because of complications around not taking diabetic meds) once he ended up on a ‘back ward’. One day he had had a stroke (classic symptoms of total loss of movement down one side of body etc) – staff then queried whether he had come into hospital 5 months before with that paralysis ! If I requested treatment for pain on his behalf (he had severe dementia which affected hiss communication) staff would try to postpone it if they were in handover. After one handover two staff were trying to ‘force down’ food to my brother stating that he was ‘in a rehab ward and needed to do more for himself ..’. yet only 3 days later the medic told my brother’s daughter that he was dying and would need palliative care .Because treatment re touch of gangrene on toes had been delayed my brother died with his one remaining leg completely covered in gangrene tissue . The only saving grace was that hsi dter and I had declined to accept the proffered care home and he spent his last weeks in a better quality home local to his family.
But what was the use of complaining after he had gone ! My brother’s daughter and I had had to fight all along the way just to get any kind of real compassionate treatment, With hindsight I should have more vigorously complained but i had not wished to cut across my brother’s daughter who was fighting hard on her father’s behalf.
Several other people I know have tried to compalin about care afforded elderly relatives – i would be frankly scared to go into hospital when I am older if i needed even a short stay as in-patient.

Satisfied says:
14 February 2014

We have had to fight several times to keep our two local hospitals open when the local health board has tried to down grade or shut them down all together on the advice of consultants who come from cities and know nothing of rural and very rural areas. Despite spending millions on new building work.However whilst they are not perfect the oncology ward staff are caring compassionate and very supportive of relatives and the staff at our local palliative care hospital can only be described as darlings. Taking care or me as well as my dying wife. I can only describe the care as brilliant.
Our local surgery will give you a same day appointment if you think you really think you need to see a doctor. My sister in law and granddaughter living in Reding and London tell me they have to wait at least a week to get an appointment! No wonder A&E depts are overfull

Lynn Miller says:
14 February 2014

In December 2013 I was taken into Hospital in Portugal,and experienced a very caring attitude from the staff and Doctors, but came away realising how lucky we are here in Britain. They are run off thier feet, obviously under funded and have a huge work load. Families have to come in to feed and also wash older patients.
It could happen here ! I feel we should demand closer supervision of all medical staff., and after reading “Which” reports of accepted working pratices here that this could very well happen if there isn’t closer scutiny of Hospital pratices that appear to have deteriorated over the last 10 years. .I strongly feel that “Bringback the matrons to officiate the wards could well be the answer” Quality nursing is needed and compassion I don’t want to think that as I get older I will be scared of being “over-looked”! as seems to be the trend these days.

Charlotte says:
14 February 2014

I’ve only had very bad experiences with the NHS I’m sorry to say. My father may have died because his GP wouldn’t take his symptoms seriously. When a man has not been to the doctors in over 20 years and comes at last saying he doesn’t feel well, has moderate to severe, persistent abdominal pain, alternating loose and compacted stools and has lost about a stone in weight without trying, it is really worth listening to him. Instead the GP repeatedly fobbed him off, diagnosing stress. After 3 months he finally got an ultrasound appointment. Although they found a mass so large it was almost causing a bowel obstruction, which would have been a critical emergency, they did not share the results with my father and told him the consultant would discuss this with him at an appointment, which would be set by letter. The letter arrived for a date a month later but a few days before that appointment a letter came saying the appointment had been moved to a month later. When the consultant saw the images he booked him in for an operation 2 days later but it was too late. The cancer had spread and he died. Bowel cancer is very treatable if caught in the early stages being made to wait 5 months for treatment, two of which was after a massive mass had been seen, cost him his life. In my view this is as good as murder.


I have nothing but praise for our specialist hospital. They care, are proactive, have the time you need for proper consultations and treat patients as if they want to help them. They actually suggest things they can offer to improve your condition! Is that unique? I doubt it. Someone needs to look at why some hospitals are apparently dismal failures whilst others shine. Meantime, let’s not stoke the British disease of total gloom and doom. Anyone else got good experiences? Perhaps we are not alone?


OK, here is praise for a GP, even if it is historical.

For some years I had an amazing GP. I could turn up any morning before 10am and be seen, without an appointment, if I was prepared to wait. The young GP was remarkably well informed and up-to-date about the subjects I consulted him on, and gave me great confidence. He had an amazing memory and could remember information without looking at my notes if I turned up without an appointment. It reminded me of the personal treatment that you can expect from a private consultant. His practice had two nurses that worked part-time. Each time he was away on holiday, the same locum doctor took over.

Sadly, the Primary Care Trust decided to close the practice because patients – mainly students – had to go upstairs to see the nurse and the computer equipment was behind the times. I found myself part of a protest group of patients who demanded a meeting with the PCT, to no avail. Many of the protesters had been with the poor GP I mentioned earlier and had moved when the young man set up his practice nearby.

After two more moves I am now with a well respected local practice that continues to impress me, even if it is impersonal compared with the treatment I used to receive.

whitehorse says:
15 February 2014

i m having a battle with the GP of an elderly parent diagnosed with Dementia, who went to assess for mental capacity. On the first visit he decided Mental Capacity was lacking, but then a matter of weeks later decided that there WAS Mental Capacity. Although I know that people with Dementia have good and bad days the predicament that I am now in as regards being able to run her affairs and pay for a Care Home is impossible. The worry of it all is affecting my own health. I complained to the GP and to the Practice Manager but was just met with a brick wall. I was refused a second opinion, repeat visit to confirm the diagnosis, or referral to a specialist, and not one bit of understanding has been showed. I have been misled by the Practice and disappointed by their devious handling of this case. They can afford to be guided by a legal department but I cannot.

Jennifer Davidson says:
16 February 2014

I liveinAsia and keep intouchwith a friend in uk who is 90. And lives alone in uk
She has anumber of problems difficulty. Mobilising ,bladder infections , inability to dress and undress, etc
She has to pay carers to visit to attend to her dressing and washing needs ,house cleaning, shopping, In short activities of daily living.

From time to time she needs medical visits but these are rare, and no one has assessed the situation. This week after waiting for months with toothache someone turned up at the house and confirmed the fact but offered no solution to her inability to get to a dental practise

Her life is a misery to her and when I telephone her each week she says she wishes she were dead

As she gets no response to her needs or problems .

Every contacts she has requires payment .Last year she. Hadto visit a clinic and see a consultant
Re her urinary problem Tne visit tot necklines a few lies away cost her £1000 !

I believe she is being abused by the system and consider it a disgrace

Jennifer Davidson says:
16 February 2014


Her visit to a clinic a few miles away cost£1000!


I am on several tablets for heart-blood pressure problems,and up to recently,I was scheduled a visit for a revue every 6 months,but last year my prescrition showed 12 monthly issues.So when I next went to the doctors I asked if this was government policy,he replied no it was the surgerys doing (rationalising their proceedurs).I said I thought the elderly might need more attention rather than less.Especially as my visit was a follow up because my blood pressure was up the month before,and my family history shows my both my mother and father suffered strokes,and my 3 older brothers and sister all died of heart attacks before the age 60 and I suffered one aged 63,but had bypass sugery which I must say has served me well.
When doctors were on 30 od thousand a year,I stood in their corner,but since rhey got a large salary increase,the service we get seems to have gone downhill.


How topical is this – happened just last week.

Wednesday: Cut my hand and finger on wire mesh.
Thursday: Woke up with swollen and inflamed finger – phoned GP surgery for same day
appointment – possible antibiotic and tetanus injection. No luck – earliest
appointment next morning 10am.
Friday: Arrive GP surgery 9.50am – no parking spaces – car park full – cars parked on
road on double yellow lines more cars piling in behind me. Waited until 10am
with engine running – appointment missed – gave up – went home.
Friday pm: ‘Phoned GP surgery explained reason for missed appointment offered another
one possibly Monday – too late for effective treatment – declined decided A&E best
Saturday: Letter of complaint sent to Practice Manager at GP surgery.

Is this just another example why A&E Dept’s are having trouble coping?


I have nothing but praise for the reaction received from my Medical Practice concerning the above. As a result of my letter of complaint I have received sincere apologies by ‘phone by the Practice Manager followed by very swift and prompt action by a member of the medical team which secured all the necessary treatment without delay.

I can only express my appreciation to Richard Lloyd and the Which? Team for their excellent timing which provided me with the impetus to write the letter of complaint and for me produced the necessary right results.


Hi Beryl, We’re really delighted to hear your feedback resulted in prompt action from your practice. Thanks for letting us know (and get well soon). Best wishes, Charlotte

janet keenan says:
25 April 2015

I need help for my brother, he will not be given another GP because he missed so many appointments.
He is ill, and my dad was dying of cancer at the time so no appointments could be fulfilled by my brother to suit arrangements. I dont know what I can do to help him now, but he has asked me to help and I dont know where to start…Oh yes a letter has been sent, but the NHS are just fobbing him off. I do not want to lose my brother as my dad died only a year ago.
Please if anyone can help me?. Let me know.


Hi Janet, thanks for your comment and I hope your brother gets better soon. We’d recommend that he may like to contact Citizens Advice about his rights.

Here is some more information, and it may well be in his interests to contact his local Clinical Commissioning Group (organises GP services in his area) to see how it can help:


Whichever route you use for help, I certainly hope that you and your brother are able to get this matter resolved to your satisfaction.


Trying to raise issues to Complaints or via PALS get maladministrated and you blamed to point of security being used against you.This has only happened to me since the NHS call centres & Specialists have operated like this since Thatchers Cuts have taken over .Worst is GMC where the Heads job is done by a PA or several .The NHS constitution is a joke as nobody seeing it is observed.This is no care in the community and many have and will die prematurely, Just check the ststistics.


A few years ago I went to PALS with my concerns, a meeting was set up which turned out to be a Kangaroo court where I was on trial.

It was indeed a “set-up”….the consultant involved, the department clinical lead and the department manager ,with a convenient nurse grade witness,conspired to provoke and entrap me.

Assertion and persistence in the face of contempt resulted in the following:

Manager: “Don’t speak to my staff like that! If you do, you will not get treatment!”

Pateo: “I am already not getting treatment; that is why I am here just now. I am plainly wasting my time, so I will leave now” ( Stands up)

Manager: ” Just a minute. Please sit down.”

I sat down, thinking manager has relented…he went to telephone and calls security.

Two large, heavy gentlemen who can only be described as thuggish arrived and escorted me and my carer/assistant from the premises…closely and oppressively and obviously desiring to provoke an incident..instigated by the manager.

I was then 60, suffering ME/CFS quite badly as well as having cervical spinal osteo-arthritis with a lumbar fusion. Shortly afterwards I received an award of DLA for Care and Mobility needs…I am not a large person and use a walking stick, mainly as an aid for balance.

Outside the hospital precinct, on the public highway, my care-person, a mature,intelligent graduate, attempted to engage the combat dressed bully boys in a consciousness raising conversation…she was brutally seized and handcuffed…which I witnessed from a distance.

As I remonstrated and made towards them, one of the thugs attacked me, forced me to the ground, knelt on me and applied a carotid block, rendering me helpless, handcuffed and dragged me to one side…as if I were a tough young and hostile adversary, not a fragile and disabled elder.

I was arrested and taken to the police station where I remained of the rest of the day..my carer was immediately released to make her own way the police station..and she a stranger in the city…a “damsel” in distress.

I was bailed to return to the police station four weeks later, kept all day again before being released without charge on the grounds that CPS deemed the evidence “insufficient to prosecute” (!)

Complaint to the Trust Executive resulted in a barrage of spurious allegations dressed up as facts. The Mangers “Incident Report” demonstrated a hastily contrived mishmash of lies and inconsistencies.

I was excluded from the Trust for one year.

After many months of fruitless correspondence, I formally withdrew my consent for treatment by any department of that Trust in the future, and that in case I should be taken to the A&E by emergency services, I was not to be admitted but referred to another, neighbouring Trust.

Subsequently, when I obtained a copy of all my patient records held at the Trust, I discovered that the covert reaction was for my “Main Reception” page which is viewed on arrival for any appointment was marked with the ‘Special Conditions’ : “PLEASE NOTIFY SECURITY / POLICE OF APPT. TIMES/DAY “.

This note is dated 17th May 2007 more than 8 months following the totally spurious allegations of assault by a frail elderly patient on a large professional thug on 7th SEPTEMBER 2006, and plainly intended to cause further aggravation, escalation and vindication…vindication of professional malpractice, malfeasance in public office and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Disillusioned says:
21 February 2014

What a dreadful set of experiences you’ve had – and sadly not unusual from what I’ve read of the ordeals of patients with ME.

All the best to you.

KeithC says:
17 February 2014

My wife suffered a prolapsed disc and yes it happened over a bank holiday weekend
She was left for over three days with no visit from a consultant,apparently none available over the bank holiday weekend.The whole shoddy affair started with a junior doctor recommending she go home and rest.She could not move and was in agony.They only gave an Xray and guess what ,it showed nothing.It was only after the fourth day they decided to give her an MRI scan and only then she was rushed into theatre ,it was by then too late. My wife has never recovered and has problems with nerve damage ,spasms and cramps continuously.We tried to sue for medical negligence from advise from another doctor and a specialist lawyer.It cost me a lot of money and was unsuccessful.The medical profession will always stick together in these circumstances.They sent us to another NHS region for a second opinion by another consultant,he clearly was not interested and it was obvious they will not challenge another member of their profession in case they are in the same boat themselves one day.



Don’t know if it is permissible to post link but .. answer to your question is yes, my wife & I have had a running battle with a local HSC Trust. Nearly 5yrs since what happened to our wee man, sadly George passed away Dec 2011 & we both feel that there is a very direct link between that & events in Feb 2009!

Disillusioned says:
18 February 2014

I have experienced serious health problems for 35+ years, since my teens. During my adult life I have lived in different areas of the country. The best doctors I’ve seen stand out like beacons, simply because good medics are so rare. My experience most health professionals has been dismal.

I don’t want to give specifics of problems, because that might identify me, and my experience of trying to get issues resolved, either formally or informally, has been by turns frustrating and frightening. PALS are sympathetic but do nothing concrete to help (they are not independent). I haven’t yet tried the formal independent complaints system because I’m too ill to handle all the work and aggro involved. I can’t afford to employ a solicitor or other advocate to act on my behalf.

My attempts to resolve problems directly with GPs, consultants or management staff, though made calmly and politely on my part, have resulted in threats to drop me from a practice or consultant’s list; lies about promises made about investigations/treatment (even though I had counter-evidence); personal abuse, and even physical assault; judgemental personal remarks appended to referral letters and records, affecting susbsequent treatment and relationships with new doctors; other vindictive behaviour, e.g. an attempt made to have essential disability benefits removed by making false allegations to the DWP, and also the toleration of repeated breaches of confidentiality by nursing staff.

In my view, patients are right to fear the repercussions of making a complaint.


Hear! Hear! See my comment above…..

You are not alone. I had twenty years of similar “treatment” in the course of persistently seeking a diagnosis and being given the bum’s rush.

I made the rounds of almost every GP in every group practice whose catchment included my area. I did find one or two doctors who were supportive but the hostility I encountered drove me out…As a result of of that treatment , my own strenuous efforts to become fit, acknowledged to be counter-productive in ME/CFS, resulted in irreparable damage. The key to successful treatment and recovery from ME/CFS is to avoid stress and do not “push the envelope” but rest before you get tired.

I cycled miles, swam a mile three time a week, and took the 26 flights of stairs up to my flat at the double. I attended numerous courses to prepare me for gainful occupation all of which were fruitless and traumatic.

Eventually I returned to the practice with which I started, and formed a good relationship with a new GP on the firm.

Exceptionally qualified as a mature medical student following a successful career as a psychiatric social worker, it even so took me three years of her steadfast support to arrive at her agreement to my eventual self-diagnosis which was subsequently ratified by the specialist ME/CFS unit at a local hospital.

I am quite well aware that my comments on this thread will identify me to the culprits and others concerned…and I am prepared to make affidavit as to the truth of my statements .


Maybe we should unite.


Good idea…but how to contact and preserve privacy?

Disillusioned says:
21 February 2014

Perhaps Which could step into the conversation at this point to help set this up?


A mutual approach from us to Richard Lloyd, the author of this article and Director of Which should be sufficient.


I have registered with this site as a first step…I have an exceptionally busy schedule for the next few days so wont be able to do much about it. Lets hope that this is being noted.


Hi all, we’re taking a note of all your comments. They are much appreciated and we’ll make sure everyone who needs to see them at Which? does see them.

bebbo says:
21 February 2014

i was a building contractor. 12 months after i retired i visited to my GP and told her i was putting on a lot weight and was depressed, was getting up 4 to 6 times a night to go the loo, i was sleeping up to 8hrs a day sitting up in the armchair, people would be talking to me and i would fall asleep, i told her i would wake up fighting for breath, after the bood tests i was told i am on the verge of type 2 diabetes, she put me on anti-depressents and told me to walk more, after 6 weeks i told her the pills are not working and was still lathargic and tired all the time, i had ballooned from a healthy 12 stone to 18 an a half stone in two years, one day i was on my computer and entered all my complaints, the answer was i got back was i was likely to be suffering from sleep apnea, i told my GP about my findings and she booked me in to see an ent specialist who confirmed i had a problem with the flap in the back of my throat, i now sleep with a machine that forces air down my windpipe when i stop breathing when i sleep, i am happy to say i feel 99% better and have lost 2 stone because i dont feel as tired, my argument is why did`nt my GP add up my complaints and diagnose my problem, do i have case against my GP for neglegence !


What about private hospitals?


Thank you everyone for commenting and sharing your experiences – they’ve helped us launch a new campaign to make your complaints count in public services, including the NHS.

You can sign our petition here: http://www.which.co.uk/campaigns/schools-doctors-hospitals/

And tell our executive director Richard Lloyd what you think in our latest Conversation: https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/doctor-gp-hospital-health-complaints/

Linda Henderson says:
16 March 2014

We had a horrendous experience in January 2012 at Milton Keynes Hospital.
My husband was admitted with severe stomach pains on 24th December 2011, after several x-rays, blood tests etc., he was discharged referred to g.p. surgery for B12 injections. He was also put forward as an outpatient to be referred for an endoscopy.
January 10th 2012, he was admitted again, with the same symptoms, severe stomach pains. He was placed on a Surgical Assesment Ward, seen by different teams of doctors, who were puzzled as to what was wrong with him. Once again he had many tests etc. He became quite poorly one day, I asked if I could talk to a doctor, but was told by a nurse that he would have to have my husbands permission. I did not want to alarm my husband at this stage, therefore I said I’d rather not and was told it would not be possible for me to see a doctor.
He was moved to the Gastro Ward one evening, without explanation, however we were pleased, as we felt they must have some idea what the diagnosis was at this point. The following day he was in severe pain again, the nurse was called and discovered he was bleeding internally.
The Rapid Response Team was called, he was given a blood transfusion and after a while appeared to be a bit better. Doctors visited him and told us that he needed an endoscopy, but endoscopy was closed that afternoon, so they would perform it the following morning. They assured me they would get him better.
The following morning the endoscopy was carried out, whilst we waited at the hospital. I was telephoned on my mobile phone, even though ward staff were aware we were waiting in the relatives room, attached to the gastro ward. A doctor informed me that he was very, very poorly and we needed to get to endoscopy as soon as possible, and told me to get to the hospital. I told her we were already here, she went on to give me garbled directions to the endoscopy unit and advised they would be expecting us. which was over the other side of a large hospital. I asked if someone could come and take us to save time, she told me she could send someone in 15 minutes. We then ran through the hospital trying to find Endoscopy. We found it, when we arrived the staff were unaware who we were and why we were there. Eventually the doctor was found and we were shown in to a relatives room and informed that my husband was critical, they thought it might be a malignancy, but it would be a matter of hours. After taking in this information, I requested that my husband be put back into a room and not on the main ward, so that he at least have a bit of privacy and dignity. We were told this would not be possible ” as he may be missed when being monitored” The rooms were attached to the main wards both on Gastro and Surgical Assesment, we knew this as he was in one on each of them during his stay.
He was taken back to the main ward, where my family remained with him for his final 6 hours. The ward was very public, unfortunately there was a gentlemen with mental health issues in the bed opposite, who kept shouting out. Therefore we did not have the opportunity to spend those precious hours with my husband in a way which he would have wanted, as he was a very private person. When my husband passed away we were shown back to the relatives room, given tea. At no point did any senior staff come in and explain why and how this awful catastrophe had happened. A nurse came and rather awkwardly gave us his belongings and advised us to ring the Bereavement Officer on Monday. We did not find out the cause of death until after a post mortem, which we were not informed of until we tried to register the death.
We attended an inquest on May 2nd 2012 , where the coroner recorded the verdict as Narrative, despite the hospital’s representative, suggesting natural causes.
In July 2012 I went on to write a letter of complaint, following the procedures laid down on Milton Keynes hospital’s website.
We were invited to a meeting in August 2012, which really didn’t give us answers, although the person heading up the meeting was sympathetic. Correspondence went to and fro between us and the Patient Experience Team, after some time I was informed that the original person who listened to us at the meeting had actually left, without any type of handover. We were then transferred to another person. I originally wrote to the CEO, who was temporarily in post.
After another letter to the new CEO and involving advocacy agency POHWER, another meeting we received a letter containing 15 apologies, but still not explaining what went wrong. We attended another meeting in June 2013 which shed a little more light on my husband’s care. I have a large folder with correspondence and the hospitals ‘being open’ policy. Our advocate requested the CEO to ensure that our final response saying that we were still not convinced that, if the Endoscopy procedure had been carried out earlier, the outcome of my husband’s case could have been so different. The CEO confirmed that this would be logged and kept on file.
I would like to stress the following final points
At no point during our complaint did we wish to seek compensation
We had little complaints regarding the nursing my husband received, most of the nurses were very good.
We feel that lack of communication between medical teams ‘who were caring for my husband’ contributed to this tragic outcome.

Mr J Wilson (widower) says:
29 April 2014

In 2011 my wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer which had spread out of the breast – into the lymph glands – which in turn had spread it into the bones of her pelvs,ribcage and her right hip and at that point she was advised that she could now only receive palliative treatment. For the last five weeks of her life I nursed her at home and during the last two weeks of this five week period she was sleeping downstairs in an armchair as she was too ill to negotiate the stairs and during this two week period I was having to wash her and take her to the toilet etc and a nurse was having to visit her on a daily basis to bandage her legs as fluid was seeping from both. On the last visit that the nurse made the nurse gave me the wrong advice ie that my wife needed to be upstairs flat on a bed bed with her legs elevated. Although I am in my 80s and I have had to have a heart bypass operation after suffering two heart attacks I managed to follow the advice that the nurse had given to me but in the early hours of the following morningI heard a noise and saw my wife laying on the bedroom floor with blood coming from her right foot . I dialled 999 for the ambulance and was advised not to try and move her. Although the Advanced Medical Priority Despatch System had coded my wife as Green Two which has a response time of 30 minutes and 1hr – 15 minutes had passed with no sign of an ambulance I had to dial 999 for the second time and when one did arrive it had come from Mansfield and not Chesterfield. The ambulance crew examined my wife and said that she needed to be taken to hospital as soon as possible as her blood pressure was dangerously low but that they did not have the correct equipment to move her downstairs and at that point they sent for a second ambulance who said that they had got the correct equipment but on strapping my wife in it found that it would not fit round the sharp bend at the top of the staircase and at that point they sent for the Fire Service. The 5 fire crew had to dismantle part of the staircase before tha ambulance crews could move my wife out to one of the ambulances. My son and I followed the ambulance to hospital where on arrival she spoke her last words to me as a doctor was trying to inject her arm ” I cannot take anymore tell them to stop ” then her eyes closed and she became unconscious and did not recover and not long afterwards she passed away. It had taken 5 hours to move my wife to hospital.
From the date of my wife s death I had a 3 year window in which I could complain or make a claim. I first took my claim to Chesterfield Hospital without success – then to Babbington Hospital at Belper where complaints are dealt with without success and then to the Parliamentry Ombudsmam in London without success. I pointed out to the Ombudsman that in my opinion my wife would not have suffered the ordeal of the 5 hour delay or the ordeal with the two ambulances and the fire service if the nurse had not given me the wrong advice on the night prior to the incident but his reply was ” the advice that the nurse gave you was appropiate and I will not be replying to any further correspondence that you send me on the matter !. I am in receipt of a letter from the East Midland Ambulance Service in which in my opinion they admit liability and ends with the following ” I am also extremely sorry that on this occasion our service failed to meet with the high standards that we aspire to achieve and which you have every right to expect” and in which they appologize for all the stress caused for all involved.At this point I was left asking myself if they were all trying to get me out of the 3 year window so that my case would become “Time Barred” and I requested that my case be taken to the Litigation Authority in London and at this point I was advised that if I went down the route of Litigation then the carers allowance that I received during the 5 weeks that I was caring for my wife washing her and taking to the toilet etc would need to be paid back to the DWP!. Like the above mentioned I received no justice for what my wife suffered and went through from the Litigation Authority either!.


You may be interested in our latest survey, covered here on the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-28200889

“The NHS still has a long way to go to improve the way it handles complaints, although there are signs of improvement, a survey suggests.

“The NHS has been heavily criticised over its complaints system in the wake of the Stafford Hospital scandal.

“The poll of 4,000 people in the UK by Populus for consumer group Which? found just a quarter were happy with the way their complaint had been handled.

“But this was a rise from 16% two years ago.

“The survey showed more than half felt their complaint had been ignored – more than in other parts of the public sector – and 43% were “dissatisfied” with the outcome.

“But four in 10 who have had a problem reported not even complaining – although this was again a slight improvement on the picture two years ago.”


Oh dear .If you complain they label to keep nose clean .Ask them PALS /Complaints on remits not to address the medical, to record & see how they falsify what has been said .I did this they redrafted some but needed more as involved loss of delayed appt & treatment but started with a TW leaving stranded bullying when mobility scooter failed on an incline .
The Chairman’s Office eventually put right to find problems with appt & treatment hadn’t had as Tests done did not suit problem as couldn’t use CPAP Machine due to emergency breathing problem daily .Now Telecare cannot respond as automatic so blaming me when alerting of problems with system.When Healthwatch & Monitoring alerted threaten legal action.
Still not getting appropriate treatment & appts transferred on removal ,paying £500 for MRI of back as numerous A&E visits having to go to Europe again as criteria discriminates against disability.Also fact LAs now directing GPs funding having maladministrated the online records regarding ommitting disability.The GMC originally informed of this problem re NHS Procedures in 1996 when policies[ eg: antibiotic] targetted me out of work.Then BA 2001 & MA visual Arts 2003.

janet keenan says:
22 April 2015

My dad was very fast with being diagnosed with cancer, It was all too much fi=or hin because there was no cure for him….there was medication to help , but not one NHS person knew of my dads consultants name. It kakes mr ill to think because my dad did not haqve to suffer as much as he did…..he was a great guy and the funeral was so full, people had to stay outside of the church…..but the thought of my dad just wanting to go home to die, was so wrong, and I never saw him after his last forced injection, which was when he was asking me for help to get out of the hospital, cos they were hurting him!!!!!