Like many other organisations, we have been actively monitoring the development of coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on our work. We have also been closely following Government guidance to make sure we look after the health and wellbeing of everyone who works here.
Impact of coronavirus on NHS complaints
Coronavirus is putting enormous pressure on the NHS. This means that NHS organisations are less able to respond to queries and provide us with information.
Having considered the situation carefully, we have decided that we should not place additional burdens on the health service during a time of national emergency. We are not currently accepting any new health complaints or progressing existing ones which involve contact with the health service. Our caseworkers have been contacting people whose existing cases are affected by this.
We will keep the situation under close review and will resume our consideration of health service complaints as soon as possible.
Read our information for complaint handling teams.
Why we are doing this
Many organisations have asked the Ombudsman to delay investigations while they focus on dealing with the coronavirus crisis. Medical staff need to focus on caring for patients, and complaint handling teams are being moved to other frontline services. This is also true for clinical advisers.
The coronavirus pandemic presents a unique challenge to the health service, and we want to make sure that our work does not prevent vital services from being delivered. We ask for your patience during this time.
We will take into account any delay caused by the current situation. If your health complaint is in time as of 26 March 2020, we will continue to treat it as in time when our normal service is back up and running.
You will need to come to us within two months of our normal service resuming so please check for updates regularly.
If you have a concern or a complaint
Our helpline is open and our staff continue to offer advice and support to people with a concern or complaint about the NHS in England. We are also able to signpost vulnerable or isolated individuals to other services which can support them at this difficult time.
If you are sure that your complaint is ready to bring to us, you may wish to complete your complaint form now and send it to us when we are able to accept new complaints.
Please make sure that we are the right organisation to look at your complaint and that it is ready for us. If you are not sure, our complaint checker tool will help you.
Our online complaint form is currently offline but you can download a complaint form from our website.
Complaints about UK government departments and agencies
We will continue to progress complaints about UK Government departments and agencies for the time being. However, we recognise that many of their resources are also stretched and will keep this under review.
These complaints still need to be referred to us by an MP. Please ask them to email your complaint to firstname.lastname@example.org rather than post. For more information see what to do before you come to us.
Office closure and receipt of post
To safeguard the wellbeing of our staff we have decided to close our offices in Manchester and London.
Our staff are working remotely and do not have access to the office building. This means we are not currently able to receive post.
Please send correspondence by email directly to your caseworker or to email@example.com. Please quote your case reference number if you have one. Relevant documents should be scanned and attached to the email if possible.
Any post sent to our offices will be kept securely.
Service of legal documents
We are no longer able to accept postal service of any legal documents. Please email all legal correspondence to Legal@ombudsman.org.uk.
If you have sent any correspondence with the intention of service by post in the last 14 days and it has not yet been acknowledged, please resubmit this by email as a matter of urgency.
Your information rights during the pandemic
We remain committed to upholding your information rights during the coronavirus pandemic. This includes your right to ask for information about this organisation (a freedom of information request) or for your personal information (a subject access request). Our information rights staff are working remotely as our offices are closed.
We will try to continue to meet statutory deadlines for requests for digital information or electronic records, though this may not always be possible.
Read more about your information rights during the coronavirus pandemic.
The situation continues to change rapidly and we will provide further updates as we respond to it.
Please continue to check our website or follow us on Twitter for the latest updates.