In England and Wales, 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 resolved within 24 hours to the complainant's satisfaction, although it is considered good practice to keep a record of issues like this.
In Scotland, things are slightly different depending on whether the complaint can be resolved without an investigation.
A complaint that can be resolved without investigation must be recorded by the relevant responsible body, who must try to resolve it to the satisfaction of the complainant within five days. This can be extended to 10 days if the complaints officer thinks it can be resolved in that time scale.
If the complainant is not satisfied at this stage, the complaint needs to be investigated. Complaints needing investigation must be recorded in writing and investigated by the responsible body. The complainant must also receive a written acknowledgement of the complaint within three working days of receipt, and a written report within 20 working days.
In Northern Ireland, although the regulations require that all complaints, including those made orally, should be investigated and responded to in writing, HSC guidance does suggest that some oral complaints made to front line staff might be resolved 'on the spot', without any further acting being necessary.
This page was correct at publication on 28/10/2021. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.