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Making a complaint

Patients and visitors

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Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, staff are currently prioritising patient care due to the demands on our service.  As a result, complaints may take longer than usual to resolve. 

Do you have a concern?

If there's something you're unhappy with relating to your care and treatment, we'd like to know about it so that we can try to put matters right. Listening to our patients is very important to us and learning from the experience of patients or service users is something we are committed to. We believe that every complaint is an opportunity for us to better understand and improve the quality of our services.

We know that people worry about the impact making a complaint may have on their care (or the care of someone close to them). We pledge that making a complaint will never adversely affect anyone's treatment.

If you have a concern or complaint you can raise it in several ways.

Talking it through

If you are concerned about your care, or any of the services provided, please speak to a member of staff on the ward or in the department. You should always try to let the person delivering the service or their manager know that you are unhappy, so they can try to put things right for you. 

If you're staying in hospital or visiting an inpatient 

Talk to the ward sister or nurse in charge who will be wearing a distinctive red armband. He/she will listen to your concerns, agree what actions should be taken and update you on progress as required.

If your concern is not resolved to your satisfaction, you can request to speak to the matron (purple uniform) for the department.

If you are an outpatient

Please ask the staff at any reception area to put you in touch with an appropriate member of staff to speak to.

If you would rather talk to someone from outside the ward/department

You can contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS). PALS provides support to patients, their families and visitors. Ask a member of staff to direct you to their office or telephone PALS on 020 7188 8801.

Making a complaint

We have tried to make our complaints process as accessible as possible.

You can also contact our complaints department on 020 7188 3514, email You can also send us your complaint using our online form.

Alternatively, you can write to the complaints team using the folowing address:

Complaints Department
Guy's Hospital
Great Maze Pond
London SE1 9RT.

Further information on the complaints process is given below.

  • Writing a complaint 

    • Ideally, all complaints should be made soon after the events you want to complain about happened. This makes it easier for everyone to remember what happened. Complaints should be made within 12 months of the date of the event. 
    • Please give as much information as you can, including your name, address and hospital number.
    • If you are raising more than one concern, make the points clear that you would like answered. This helps the investigating team to cover all the issues you would like answered.
    • You can ask a friend or relative to raise a concern or complaint on your behalf. If you do, we will ask you to sign a consent form, giving us permission to disclose your personal information to this person.
    • If you want to make a complaint but are struggling, please contact the complaints team and we will advise you about the support available or offer advice to make sure your concerns are heard. 
  • What can I expect from the complaints process?

    We will acknowledge your complaint within three working days and investigate it. We may contact you by phone or email to try to speak with you to make sure we fully understand the concerns you are raising. When we begin our investigation we will let you know how long it is likely to take. We will also keep you informed of progress, and if the investigation is going to take longer than originally thought we will explain to you the reason why.

    Once the investigation is complete, we will provide you with a written response explaining the outcome and conclusions of the investigation. Where our investigation has identified any service failure (occasions where our service fell below the standard to be expected) we will explain what actions we intend to take to help avoid that failure (or a similar failure) occurring again and the timescales for completing those actions.

    Please be aware that the complaints process cannot look at disciplinary issues, (for example whether a staff member should be sacked), 'strike off' a health professional or suspend their registration, or look at complaints about treatment provided privately unless it was paid for by the NHS.

    See also our leaflet:

  • Learning from complaints

    As a Trust we are committed to learning and making changes resulting from complaints. As service users tell us about their experience, if we can identify an improvement or change that can improve this, we will work hard to implement this change. Some examples of learning from complaints that closed from January to March 2021.

    Directorate and clinical group



    Adult respiratory and medicine (Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals)

    Concerns raised about communication, prognosis and do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (DNAPCR)

    We held a teaching session in March 2021 to improve future care. This covered DNACPR decisions and communication with colleagues in specialist palliative care. The session took place during thoracic academic day. It included staff from anaesthetics, nursing, doctors, surgeons and pain management teams.

    Surgery (Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals)

    Concerns raised about the lack of care and preservation of dignity while an inpatient

    The 'After your Heart Operation' booklet needs changes. The leaflet will be updated with key actions following discharge. These actions will prompt nursing staff when they discuss discharge with patients. The first page will also include key contact information such as details for the pharmacy helpline and nurse's helpline. The information in the booklet will clearly direct patients to telephone their GP for an appointment. The review process for the discharge letters and booklet will be complete within 6 to 8 weeks.

    Clinical haematology (cancer and surgery)

    Concerns raised about how a procedure for insertion of femoral line was conducted

    Training is being given to ward nursing staff about the chaperones available to support patients. By the end of August 2021, all staff will have had this training.

    The haematology team will also:

    • talk about patient concerns (for example, anxiety or scarring) with the anaesthetists
    • talk to patients about how we can best reduce their stress during difficult procedures

    Emergency department (internal safety management)

    Concerns raised about a patient receiving a call following discharge about samples to be sent for testing 

    It has been agreed that the contents of ward specimen fridges are now checked each morning after handover. The on-call medical team will be told about any missing histology requests or consent forms so that they can get them, ideally when the patient is still in hospital.  

    Emergency department staff will attend a bereavement study day run by women's services to help support patients experiencing loss or miscarriage.

    Radiology (internal safety management)

    Patient raised concerns about the delay when they attended interventional radiology (IR) for a procedure

    IR clinical nurse specialists will now monitor coronavirus (COVID) test results and update the worklist and team. If they have not received the test result after the list for the next day has been prepared, they will check again at 8am before the safety team briefing. This will make sure correct and updated information is available.

    Evelina London Children's Hospital

    The family of a patient raised concerns about the attitude of staff regarding same sex couples

    The equality diversity and inclusion (EDI) team rolled out a programme of unconscious bias training for all health visiting teams in Lambeth and Southwark. This training will finish at the end of June 2021.

    The complaint was anonymised and shared across Evelina London to make sure learning is shared. All Evelina London staff will have an objective about EDI this year. 

  • What if I am still not happy?

    If, after you have received our written response to your complaint, you are not satisfied you can request an independent review of your complaint.

    You will need to write to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), requesting a review. You should usually take your complaint to the Ombudsman within a year of when you first became aware of the problem.


Contacting our complaints department

You can also send us your complaint using our online form.


Complaints Department
Guy's Hospital
Great Maze Pond
London SE1 9RT.

Further help and useful resources

Video tips on making a complaint

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has produced a British Sign Language video featuring tips on making a complaint to the NHS.

Support for patients with learning disabilities

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman have also produced an easy read leaflet and video on complaining. 

The PHSO accessibility webpage contains useful information for people who have a learning disability or want Easy Read information. 

Contacting our complaints department

020 7188 3514


You can also send us your complaint using our online form.

Post: Complaints Department, Guy's Hospital, Great Maze Pond, London SE1 9RT.

Further help

Making a complaint (PDF 104Kb) 


AccessAble, accessibility information about Guy's and St Thomas'




Video tips on making a complaint

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has produced a British Sign Language video featuring tips on making a complaint to the NHS.