Our case summaries provide examples of the complaints we handle and we hope they give people confidence that complaining can make a difference.
Most of the summaries we publish are cases we have upheld or partly upheld. These cases provide clear and valuable lessons for public services by showing what needs to be changed so that similar mistakes can be avoided in future. They include complaints about failures to spot serious illnesses like sepsis, and mistakes by government departments that caused financial hardship.
How can I search the summaries
- Parliamentary or health complaints: You can filter your results to see only summaries about government (Parliamentary) organisations or health services. Choosing one or the other will show only the search fields relevant to your choice.
- Organisation: You can search for a specific organisation by typing in the name in the box labelled 'Organisation'.
- Location: The location is where the organisation complained about is based. We have included location information for health services in England but not for government organisations. This is because most government organisations handle their complaints centrally and many of them are based in Whitehall, London, so the location information is not meaningful.
- Result: The result is what we achieved for the complainant. It might be an apology or a recommendation that an organisation change its practice. If we know what action an organisation has taken by the time we publish the summary, we will say what they did.
- Complainants' concerns about complaint handling: You can search the summaries by the concerns complainants had about how their complaint was handled by the government organisation or the NHS in England. That could, for example, include not apologising properly or not doing enough to put things right. It is important to bear in mind, however, that our investigation may not have found that the concern was a problem. On the other hand, sometimes we find that there are additional problems in the way the complaint was handled that the complainant may not have recognised.
Upheld, partly upheld, and not upheld complaints
Most of the case summaries we publish are upheld or partly upheld. That means that they are the cases in which we agreed, at least in part, with the complainant. We publish these because they are the cases where there is most to learn.
We include a sample of cases we haven't upheld. These cases may illustrate that an organisation is already getting things right. They will also give people who are thinking of complaining to us an idea of the kind of cases we don't uphold.
At the moment, we uphold or partly uphold around 40% of cases we investigate.
Do complainants have a say in whether or not their summary is published?
Yes, we let complainants know in advance that we may publish a summary of their case. If someone objects, we normally do not publish. Exceptionally, we will publish if there is an overriding public interest, but we will not do so if we cannot anonymise the case sufficiently.
How do you protect people’s identity?
We take steps to carefully anonymise the case summaries. We don’t name complainants in the summaries, and we avoid including any specific details which may identify people.
Are organisations told about cases involving them?
Yes, when we decide to investigate a case, we tell the organisation that we may publish a summary of the case.
Will organisations be named?
The case summaries are anonymised. This means that, not only do we not name the complainant, we also do not name individuals complained about or who feature in the case (for example, named staff at hospitals). We usually name the organisation unless doing so is likely to identify an individual. So we will name government organisations and NHS trusts, for example, but we do not normally name a GP practice or dental surgery.
Are there any cases you won't publish?
We currently publish a selection of the cases that we investigate, not all of them. The cases we select for publication aim to give a snapshot of the wide range of issues we can deal with.
We won't publish when case circumstances might make it inappropriate. For example, where publication might cause harm or distress to the complainant or someone else involved. We also will not normally publish if the complainant tells us they don't want a summary of their case published.