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How CHCs can help you raise a concern about NHS services

Your right to complaints advocacy support


By law, people who wish to complain about the care and/or treatment they receive from the NHS are entitled to free, independent, and confidential advocacy services to help them make their complaint.

Advocacy is defined as "giving active support". This is the role of our Complaints Advocacy Service who are here to support you if you are not satisfied with any aspect of NHS care that you have received and wish to make a complaint.


About our complaints advocacy staff and our service

All our complaints advocacy staff are trained. Our complaints advocates have or are working towards the National Advocacy Qualification. CHC’s deliver the complaints advocacy service locally in line with national standards set by the Board of CHCs in Wales.


What our complaints advocacy service can and can’t do

Our complaints advocacy service can:

  • Support you to make a complaint about a service, care or treatment provided or paid for by the NHS
  • Support you to make a complaint on someone else’s behalf, including if someone has died
  • Listen to your concerns
  • Signpost you to other organisations if we think that someone else can also help
  • Answer questions about the NHS concerns process and explain your options
  • Provide a step-by-step guide to the NHS concerns process and offer some tips
  • Provide you with a trained complaints advocate, an experienced worker who can help you raise your concern and support you through the process.

Our complaints advocacy service can’t:

  • Make decisions on your behalf
  • Offer an opinion on the validity of a concern
  • Offer clinical opinions or give medical advice
  • Offer advice about on-going care and treatment
  • Investigate concerns
  • Provide support with Continuing Healthcare or Individual Patient Funding Request Panels
  • Provide support at inquests
  • Offer additional support such as bereavement and counselling. Contact details for such professionals can be provided if required
  • Help you to raise a concern yourself if you are under 18 years old
  • Usually work on concerns that are over 12 months old unless you have only just found out that you have cause for complaint, or have some other good reason for not raising your concerns sooner
  • Give legal advice or help with legal action
  • Help with issues not covered by NHS complaints regulations. This includes things like privately funded treatment
  • Get NHS staff disciplined
  • Help you if you don’t live in Wales.

Even if we are not able to help with an issue, we may be able to signpost you to someone else who can help. Please do ask us.

When can our complaints advocacy service help?

The NHS Wales concerns process “Putting things right” is designed to help people to get their concerns heard and where possible, resolved.

It encourages people to talk to their healthcare provider who may be able to get something put right there and then. If you’re not sure, you can contact us and we will help you find the right person to talk to.

Our complaints advocacy service can help you at any stage in the NHS Wales concerns process.


How the process works

When you first contact the CHC Advocacy Service, one of our staff will talk to you about your concern, what sort of help you think you require and if you have any particular needs such as large print materials or access to someone who can sign.

If we are able to help you, we will explain what assistance our service is able to provide. If we are unable to help you we will try to signpost you to someone who can.

If you decide that you would like the support of our advocacy service you will be asked to complete an authorisation form. On receipt of your signed authorisation, you will be contacted by one of our advocates who will discuss your concerns in further detail and agree a way forward.


What support can we offer?

Depending on your needs we can support you with any or all of the following:

Find information relevant to your concern

You may feel that you need a bit of help to find information, for example asking for a copy of any relevant medical records.

Think through your concerns, the concerns process and what you might realistically achieve

Concerns are sometimes about things that are very distressing and the process of raising a concern can seem very daunting. Sometimes people find it helps to talk through their concerns and how the process works with someone who is knowledgeable, empathetic and independent.

Write letters

A concern is more likely to be resolved quickly and successfully if it is expressed clearly. We can help you work out what you want to say and help you draft letters.

Attend NHS concerns meetings

Sometimes it is necessary to meet with NHS staff as part of the concerns process. This can feel daunting and sometimes upsetting. We can support you to prepare for and attend meetings with NHS staff so that you can make the most of the opportunity to discuss your concerns.

We will provide the type and level of support that you need, based on our discussions with you. For example you may feel that, because of a disability, ill health, communication or language barriers, grief or other reasons, you need more support from a complaints advocate throughout the process. Alternatively, once you have talked your concerns through with an advocate you may feel happy to continue without support.

We work with anyone who lives in Wales and is over 18 years old, no matter what their needs, including but not exclusively, people who have:

  • Mental health issues
  • Learning difficulties
  • Sensory disabilities
  • Little or no English and different cultural backgrounds
  • Suffered a bereavement.

Or anyone else who needs help with their NHS concern.

Board of Community Health Councils in Wales, 3rd Floor, 33 - 35 Cathedral Road, Cardiff, CF11 9HB
Phone: 02920 235 558 Email:

This page is also available in Welsh. Please click on ‘Cymraeg’ at the top of the page
We welcome correspondence in Welsh, and corresponding in Welsh will not lead to delay