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About the PHSO

The PHSO make final decisions on complaints that have not been resolved by the NHS in England and UK government departments and other public organisations.

They do this fairly and without taking sides. Their service is free.

The PHSO were set up by Parliament to provide an independent complaint handling service for complaints that have not been resolved by the NHS in England and UK government departments.

They share findings from our casework to help Parliament scrutinise public service providers.

They also share their findings more widely to help drive improvements in public services and complaint handling.

What the PHSO do

The PHSO look into complaints where someone believes there has been injustice or hardship because an organisation has not acted properly or has given a poor service and not put things right. We look into complaints fairly and our service is free for everyone. If we decide that the organisation has got things wrong, we may make recommendations for it to put them right.

This can include explanations, apologies and recommendations for the service to learn and improve.

They have a transparent and fair process and will let you know about each stage of our process to make sure we have a consistent, quality service.

How their casework makes a difference

The PHSO's core role is to make final decisions on complaints that have not been resolved by the NHS in England, UK government departments and some other UK public organisations. Where they identify individual wrongs, they can get these put right for people.

Making recommendations

If the PHSO fully or partly uphold a complaint, they can make recommendations to the organisation to put things right.

This could mean:

  • acknowledging their mistakes
  • apologising
  • making a payment

But the individual complaints that people bring to them can also help to make public services better for everyone.

If the PHSO find an organisation has got things wrong, they can ask it to show how it will prevent this happening again. This is so other people don’t go through the same thing. We publish summaries of some of these cases, so that all organisations can learn from the complaints they look into.

Sharing learning from complaints

The complaints we see give us a window into how the NHS and other public services are performing overall.

They can see what is working well and what isn’t, and can spot serious or repeated mistakes.

The PHSO share the lessons learned from our casework so that organisations can improve public services.

They do this by:

  • routinely publishing most of our casework (starting from April 2021)
  • regularly publishing case summaries
  • regularly publishing insight reports and laying these before parliament.

The PHSO also work with Parliament’s Select Committees and MPs to hold the Government and public services to account for delivering improvements.

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