Understanding the Complaints Procedure for Private Hospitals

If you are a private patient and are unhappy with the care you have received, you are entitled to make a complaint about the healthcare professional, hospital or clinic concerned. However, unlike with the NHS, there is no standard procedure for making a private healthcare complaint, meaning patients often have to rely on the hospital’s in-house complaints system.

Most major hospital groups and medical insurance companies have a complaints procedure in place. Additionally, more than 90% of private hospitals are part of the Independent Healthcare Forum (IHF), a charity that presses for improved standards in private healthcare and has a standard code of practice for all its member institutions - understanding this could make it easier to make an effective complaint.

If you’d like more guidance about this process, call JMW on 0800 054 6512, or allow us to call you by leaving your details via our online enquiry form. We can discuss the particulars of your situation and help you find the best way to progress with your complaint.

Making a complaint

Complaints made on the spot can often be sorted quickly and easily. However, if you wish to communicate a grievance more formally you should ask for a copy of the complaints procedure from the hospital and write directly to the person in charge of complaints.

You can receive independent advice on pursuing a private complaint from the Patients’ Association, an organisation which represents the interests of patients, or by contacting a legal professional who can offer expert advice on the necessary steps that may follow.

The Patients’ Association recommends that any complaints letter should include:

  • a statement of what you are complaining about, and the names and positions of staff involved
  • details of why you are not satisfied
  • details of what you would like to happen
  • a request that you would like your complaint investigated and responded

Standards of care

The National Care Standards Commission in England and the Care Standards Inspectorate in Wales are independent patient watchdogs that regulate private health services.

If a private health institution handles a complaint unsatisfactorily you can refer the matter to the area office of the commission or inspectorate. They will be able to investigate your case, and if there is evidence of a breach of regulations or standards these bodies have the authority to order changes and improvements. However, they cannot award any financial compensation.

If any of your care during private treatment failed to meet minimum standards - no matter whether the care is paid for by yourself or a health insurance policy - you should consider pursuing legal action for compensation.

Private healthcare professionals have a duty of care and can be held accountable if their treatment can be proven negligent, or if the hospital or a staff member has breached their contract.

You should always take legal advice before choosing this course of action, so it’s important to speak with a solicitor as soon as possible about any potential claim you may wish to pursue.


For additional free advice on this or any other subject you can get in touch with the medical law experts at JMW on 0800 054 6512; alternatively, you can fill out our contact form to request a call back.

Why Choose JMW?

Legal action to obtain compensation for clinical negligence is a highly specialist area of the law, so the need to have an experienced and specialist trained solicitor is crucial. Our solicitors have dealt with many erroneous and late cancer diagnosis claims over the years, and we have become experts in this field of medical negligence law, often recovering considerable compensation for our clients.

We are able to deal with claims using a no win, no fee scheme in appropriate cases. We offer a free advice session either personally or on the telephone and, if after talking to us you decide not to take matters further, you are under no obligation to do so and you will not be charged for our initial advice session.

The clinical negligence team at JMW includes members of both the Law Society's specialist panel for clinical negligence and the Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) solicitors panel. Headed by Eddie Jones, the team is among the most respected in the UK.

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For additional free advice on this or any other subject you can get in touch with the medical law experts at JMW on 0800 054 6512; alternatively, you can fill out our online enquiry form to request a call back.

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