Make a complaint against the health service

If you are unhappy with the care or treatment you receive from the health service in Northern Ireland, you have the right to complain. Your complaint is confidential.

Services you can complain about

If you use health services, you can complain. Health services include hospitals, community services, nursing or residential homes, ambulance services, social services, family doctors and health service pharmacists, opticians and dentists.  

You can also complain on someone else’s behalf, although you will generally need their consent.  

Different ways you can complain

You can complain in different ways. This can be face to face, on the telephone, in a letter or by email. You should try to provide details of:

  • how to contact you
  • who or what you are complaining about
  • where and when the event that caused your complaint happened
  • if possible, what you would like to be done to address your complaint  

You should try to complain as soon as possible, usually within six months of you becoming aware that you have a cause for complaint and normally no longer than 12 months after the event.

But you don’t have to wait – if you are unhappy with something, you can speak to any of the staff who are dealing with your treatment or care and they will try to resolve your concerns straight away.  

Making a complaint

You can speak to any member of staff who is involved in your treatment or care about your complaint.  

All health service organisations have someone who is responsible for dealing with complaints. You can ask to speak to them.  

If your complaint relates to services provided by a GP, or a health service dentist, pharmacist or optician, you can also contact the Health and Social Care (HSC) Board.  

Answering your complaint

Your complaint will be acknowledged within two or three working days of receipt. You should receive a full response within 10 days if your complaint was about a GP, dentist, pharmacist or optician and made directly.  

If the complaint has been made with the help of the HSC Board,  a response takes 20 days. If your complaint was about a hospital or community service, you should receive a full response within 20 working days.

Some complaints take longer to resolve than others. You should be told if this is the case and be given an explanation.

Help with making a complaint

Health service complaints managers can provide you with more information on how to make a complaint.

You can also contact the Patient and Client Council. They give free and confidential advice, information and help to make a complaint.  

Specialist advocacy services may also be available. Complaints managers or the Patient and Client Council can tell you about these.

Contacting the Ombudsman

If you are not happy with the response to your complaint, you can contact the service again and they will try to address your concerns.  

If you are still unhappy, you can refer your complaint to the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO). NIPSO will look at your complaint and decide whether they should investigate it.

Complaints about independent establishments

If your complaint relates to a placement in an establishment such as a nursing or residential home, you can complain to the provider of care or, if you prefer, you can raise your concerns with the HSC Trust that placed you there. If you are not happy with the response you receive, you can refer your complaint to NIPSO.


Complaints - who to contact Complaints - who to contact

Belfast HSC Trust
Complaints Office
7th Floor, McKinney House
Musgrave Park Hospital

Telephone: 028 9504 8000
Website: Belfast HSC Trust

Health and Social Care Board
Complaints Office
12-22 Linenhall Street
HSC Board Headquarters

Telephone: 028 9536 3893
Website: Health and Social Care Board

Northern HSC Trust
Complaints / Service User Experience Office
Northern Health and Social Care Trust Headquarters
Bretten Hall
Antrim Area Hospital Site
Bush Road
BT41 2RL

Telephone: 028 9442 4655
Website: Northern HSC Trust

Patient and Client Council
1st Floor
Ormeau Baths
18 Ormeau Avenue

Freephone: 0800 917 0222
Freepost: Patient and Client Council
Website: Patient and Client Council

South Eastern HSC Trust
Complaints Department
Lough House
Ards Community Hospital
Church Street
BT23 4AS

Telephone: 028 9056 1427
Website: South Eastern HSC Trust

Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority
9th Floor, Riverside Tower
5 Lanyon Place

Telephone: 028 9051 7500
Website: Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority

Western Trust
Complaints Department
Altnagelvin Area Hospital
Glenshane Road
BT47 6SB

Telephone: 028 7134 5171 ext 214142

Direct dial: 028 7161 1226
Website: Western HSC Trust

Southern Trust
Service User Feedback Team Southern Health and Social Care Trust
Beechfield House
Craigavon Area Hospital site
68 Lurgan Road
BT63 5QQ

Telephone: 028 3756 4600
Website: Southern HSC Trust

Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman
Progressive House
33 Wellington Place

Telephone: 028 9023 3821

Freepost NIPSO

Freephone: 0800 34 34 24
Website: Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman

NI Ambulance Service HSC Trust
Administrative and Complaints Manager
Headquarters, Site 30
Knockbracken Healthcare Park
Saintfield Road

Telephone: 028 9040 0999 and 028 9040 0901
Website: NI Ambulance Service

Business Services Organisation
Complaints Office
6th Floor
2 Franklin Street

Telephone: 028 9536 3810 and 0300 555 0113
Website: Business Services Organisation

Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service
Complaints Co-ordinator
Lisburn Road

Telephone: 028 9032 1414
Website: NI Blood Transfusion Service

Public Health Agency
Complaints Office
Level 4
12-22 Linenhall Street

Telephone: 028 9536 3429 and 0300 555 0114
Website: Public Health Agency



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