Voluntary patients

Explains your rights if you are having treatment in hospital as a voluntary patient. Applies to England and Wales.

How can I make a complaint?

If you have a complaint about the way you have been treated as a voluntary patient, there are a number of things you can do. What is best for you will depend on exactly what has happened, but generally it is best to try to sort it out informally if you can.

Speak to someone informally

Sometimes a problem can be sorted out by speaking with the person involved without having to follow a formal process. An advocate may be able to help you if you would like support in doing this.

Make a complaint to the hospital

If you can't resolve it informally, you can make a complaint to the complaints manager of the hospital. Every hospital will have a complaints procedure for you to access – you can ask for a copy, and this will give you details of the complaints process, including how to appeal the decision.

You should report your concerns within 12 months of the incident or the treatment.

Make a further appeal

If you have spoken to someone informally and made a complaint to the hospital and are still not happy with the outcome, you can appeal the decision to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman in England or the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales.

You could also write a letter or email to the Care Quality Commission (in England) or the Healthcare Inspectorate (in Wales).

For more information about making a complaint see our pages on Complaining about health and social care.


This information was published in November 2016. We will revise it in 2018.

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