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What to do if you’re unhappy with your GP practice

If you feel unhappy about something to do with your GP practice, and would like to take some action, there are a number of ways to do this. You can also use some of these to give positive feedback on the practice.

Giving feedback and resolving problems

Staff in your GP surgery should be open to hearing your views, both positive and negative. Ask at the practice if there are ways you can offer your opinions, and see Patient empowerment for more information on how to get involved in shaping services. 

If you are unhappy with the treatment your GP or another member of staff has provided, the way they have behaved towards you, or any other aspect of their service, it’s often best to start with trying to resolve the situation in person.

If your concern relates to an individual member of staff, start by discussing it with them directly. Explain why you are raising this issue, and what you would like to be done as a result. This can help the practitioner address your concerns. Even if you are upset, try to stay calm and to discuss the issue without becoming angry. This can help solve the issue as quickly as possible, and hopefully allow you to maintain a good relationship.

If this doesn’t work, or you feel reluctant to talk to the individual directly, ask to speak to another member of staff, such as the practice manager.

Making a complaint

At some stage, you may feel that you need to make a formal complaint – perhaps if your concern hasn’t been resolved to your satisfaction informally, or if you feel it needs to be addressed more formally.

Every GP practice has a complaints procedure. If you have not been given information on this already, and are not offered information on this at the time you make a complaint, ask to see it.

You can usually make a complaint by speaking to a member of staff face to face or over the phone, or in writing. If you talk to someone, you should then be given a written version of your complaint.

Either way, explain clearly:

  • what or who you are complaining about.
  • when and where any incident occurred.
  • any action you’ve taken as a result.
  • what you would like to happen as a result of your complaint. This could be a change to systems or practices, or an apology, for example.

You should receive a response within a few days, and the complaint should be resolved within six months or so. Your surgery’s complaints procedure will set out a more precise timetable for your practice.

Alternatively, if you would rather not make the complaint directly to the practice, you can complain to the relevant health trust or board, and go though its complaints procedure. You can’t, however, complain to both the practice and the trust or board.

If you have tried discussing the problem with the healthcare worker concerned, or with the practice manager, or you’ve made a formal complaint to the practice or the trust or board, and you still haven’t had a satisfactory response, then you can deal take matter to an external organisation.

Making a complaint to an external organisation

If you aren’t able to resolve the complaint to your satisfaction within the practice or through the health trust or board, you can take your complaint to the relevant ombudsman. This body will look at the complaint and the response to decide if the action taken was reasonable.

You can also contact independent organisations that deal with issues such as misconduct or poor performance among practitioners. These include the General Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

For help and advice on what to do next and support with making a complaint, contact your local Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) or your local Independent Complaints and Advocacy Service (ICAS) in England, Community Health Councils (Wales), the Patient Advice and Support Service (Scotland) or the Patient and Client Council (Northern Ireland), or your local citizens advice bureau.

See Getting more information.

How to change a GP

If you decide to change your GP, either within a practice or to a new practice, you are entitled to do so, whatever the reason. You do not need to tell your current GP that you have decided to change. When you register with a new GP, your medical records will be transferred to your new practice. However, this process may be quicker if you tell your previous GP that you are leaving.

HIV, GPs & other primary care

Published October 2012

Last reviewed October 2012

Next review October 2014

Contact NAM to find out more about the scientific research and information used to produce this booklet.

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.