Patient Complaints and Assistance

Patient complaints are a valuable resource for monitoring and improving patient safety. Whilst the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh cannot directly comment or intervene in specific cases, there are a range of resources available for those seeking help.

In the first instance, patients should always direct complaints to the person or organisation providing the service first. Most problems can be dealt with at this stage, but in some cases patients may feel more comfortable contacting someone not directly involved in the case.

Below are a links to a range of resources that provide further help and assistance


Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) are found in most hospitals and offer free and confidential support in order to resolve issues informally before formal complaints are made. Click here to find details of your local PALS.

Those wanting to make complaints should contact the NHS Complaints Advocacy Service who provide information on the different NHS complaints processes and help to make complaints if required.

If complaint can't be resolved, the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman may also be able to assist in the final instance.


NHS Inform is Scotland’s national health information service and provides general information on how to make a complaint to local NHS health boards as well as relevant contact details.

Furthermore, the Citizens Advice Bureau provide a free and confidential Patient Advice & Support Service (PASS) to help patients better understand their rights and responsibilities.

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) is the final stage for complaints about the National Health Service.


‘Putting Things Right’ is the process for managing concerns in NHS Wales and also encourages concerns to be raised with the staff involved in a particular treatment or care.

If this is not appropriate, each health board and trust has a Concern Team who will look into cases and speak to staff involved. Community Health Councils also offer free and confidential independent advocacy support. The  Public Services Ombudsman for Wales is the final stage for complaints. 

Northern Ireland

nidirect provides information on how to complain about HSCNI services and contact details of the complaints team within each Trust. The Patient and Client Council can also help those making complaints or looking to make complaints. 

Finally, compalints can be referred to the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO). They will decide whether they should be investigated.   

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