Complaining about health and social care

Explains what you can do if you experience a problem with the health or social care you receive or think you should have received. Applies to England and Wales.

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How do I complain if I receive private health or social care?

Private health care

If you want to complain about private health care you have received, you won't be able to use the NHS complaints system, unless the NHS commissioned the private service on your behalf and are paying for it (in this case, you can follow the steps in How to make a complaint).

If you have a complaint about the private health care you are receiving, you should ask for the complaints procedure of the private provider. Private hospitals, care homes and other private health care providers will all have their own complaints procedure and policy.

There is no one process for each private provider, so you will need to find out the specific complaints procedure of your provider and follow it. If you feel like you need to, you can get support for this process.

If you aren’t happy with how your problem has been dealt with, you can only appeal the outcome of the complaint to the health care ombudsman if your care was funded by the NHS. If you or someone else privately funded your care, the health care ombudsman will not look into it.

Private social care

If you are receiving private social care, this usually means you are receiving your care in one of these two ways:

  • You have arranged for your own care yourself and you pay for it yourself.
  • You have arranged for your own care yourself and you receive a direct payment to pay for it from the local authority.

If you have a complaint about the care you are receiving in these situations, you can ask for the complaints procedure of the private provider. The procedure and policy will tell you how to make a complaint.

Private care homes and other private social care providers will all have their own complaints procedure and policy. There is no one process for each private provider, so you will need to find out the specific complaints procedure of your provider and follow it.

If you aren’t happy with how your problem has been dealt with, you can appeal the outcome of the complaint to the social care ombudsman in the same way you would if you had complained to the local authority.


This information was published in May 2017. We will revise it in 2019.


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