Information on what we look for when making the decision to accept a complaint.

When we receive a complaint, we will write to acknowledge the complaint within two working days. Emails will be acknowledged within one working day. Every complaint is given a reference number which should be quoted in any future contact with the Ombudsman.

There are a number of conditions which the law requires to be met before we can take any action on a complaint. We apply additional conditions in order to enable us to focus our resources most effectively on those we might best be able to help.

If you have received a complaint and want us to look at it, the information which follows should assist you to establish whether it is one that we can help you with.

This focuses on complaints about Government departments and public organisations other than the NHS, as those complaints must in law be referred to us by an MP.

While similar considerations relate to complaints about the NHS, such complaints do not have to be made through an MP, although MPs may wish to assist people to put their complaints to us. If you have such a case about the NHS, we will be happy to discuss it with you.

The questions we will ask about any complaint we receive are whether:

  • it is about action which we can investigate;
  • it is an eligible complaint;
  • it is properly made by a suitable person;
  • it is in time; and
  • it is not premature.

If the above conditions are not met, then we may not be able to look into the complaint any further. However, often we are able to help you or the complainant in other ways, for example by identifying the correct organisation to complain to.

If these conditions are met, then we will go on to consider whether it is otherwise a complaint on which we can add value and, if we believe that we can, then a decision is made to investigate it.