Seek help early!

Seek help early!

We encourage members to contact us as soon as possible. Even if you think you've done nothing wrong or the complaint is a result of systems or circumstances outside of your control.

At the MDU, we can provide you with: 

  • guidance on how to manage a complaint
  • step by step support at each stage of the complaint process.

You can email us or call. We won’t keep you waiting. 99% of our 24-hour advice line calls are connected to a medico-legal adviser within 20 seconds.

Get help

You’re not alone

You’re not alone

Our survey on complaints, conducted in partnership with Healthcare Leadership Academy, revealed that:

  • 88.8% of responders had received a complaint
  • the impact of a complaint was felt professionally (94.8%) and personally (92.1%), regardless of the nature of the complaint or level it was escalated to.

Members should always feel free to call our team of medico-legal advisers on 0800 716 376 or send an email. Even if you think it’s an open-and-shut case, or you’re already getting support from a colleague or friend, our medico-legal advisers will offer support, empathy and understanding, as well as reassurance and peace of mind.

Contact an adviser

How to write a response to a complaint


Complainants often simply want an apology, an explanation, and an assurance that what happened to them will not happen to anyone else.

Every complaint is different, so every response will be different too. When planning your response, think about what you want to achieve and how you will come across to anyone reading it.

Watch our short video on what constitutes a good response to a complaint and how to go about writing an effective apology.


Stages of a complaint

Feedback on your complaint response

Feedback on your complaint response

MDU members can look to us for help on responding to a complaint. Our medico-legal advisers can review and comment on your draft complaint response. 

Simply email us the anonymised complaint and your draft complaint response.

Get feedback

Listen to our new podcast on reflection

Listen to our new podcast on reflection

Dr Caroline Fryar - head of MDU advisory services, Dr Daniel Sokol - medical ethicist, barrister and mediator and Dr Laura Hulmes, GP trainee - discuss:

  • how to get started with the reflective process
  • what should be included in reflective writing
  • how it can make a huge difference in helping to minimise future complaints
  • how you can ultimately learn from them.

Further support and resources


How do I write a response to a complaint from a patient?

Writing a good response is a crucial part of successfully resolving a complaint. It’s important to know how to set out your response and what to include. Take a look at our article How to respond to a complaint and watch our video.

Is there a time limit on making a complaint?

Complaints should be made within 12 months of the date on which the matter occurred, or from when the complainant first knew about the matter. However, it's still advisable to consider complaints made outside the time limit if it is possible to investigate them fairly and effectively. 

Explain to the complainant if relevant information is no longer available and consider what steps, if any, can reasonably be taken to investigate their complaint.

If I call the medico-legal advice line about a complaint, will it affect my subscription?

We would like to dispel the myth that MDU members could be disadvantaged if they contact our 24-hour medico-legal advice service. One of our core services is to provide expert medico-legal advice and members should call us at any time if they need preemptive advice on how to manage or avoid a problem, or guidance on what to do if something has gone wrong.

We answer almost 30,000 calls from members to our advice line every year, helping members to avoid potential problems and to mitigate problems if they arise. It would make no sense for there to be any penalty or disincentive to members contacting us in this way. We very much encourage members to contact us whenever they need our input or support.

I’ve heard that the MDU provides a new peer support network. Can you tell me more?

The Peer Support Network is available to members who are going through a complaint or an investigation. We can offer confidential support and reassurance from a fellow medical professional whose had first-hand experience of the process. To access the network, please speak to the medico-legal adviser dealing with your case.

Do all complaints have to be recorded?

All complaints, whether they are made orally, in writing or by email, are regarded as formal complaints under the NHS Complaints Regulations, and should be recorded in your annual complaints report. 

The only exception is oral complaints that are resolved within 24 hours to the complainant's satisfaction, although it is considered good practice to keep a register of such issues.

Can I stop treating a patient who complains?

A complaint alone is not regarded as reasonable grounds for removing a patient, in the eyes of the GMC and the Ombudsman. What's more, your actions could escalate the situation and prompt a further complaint.

Case scenarios