How to make a complaint

When the Ombudsman receives a complaint, her Office 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 the Ombudsman 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 the Ombudsman to look at it, the information which follows should assist you to establish whether it is one that she can help you with.

This focuses on complaints about Government departments and public bodies other than the NHS, as those complaints must in law be referred to the Ombudsman 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 sometimes assist people to put their complaints direct to the Ombudsman. 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 the Ombudsman 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 the Ombudsman may not be able to take any action on the complaint.

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