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Complaints & Advocacy - Healthwatch Dorset
Complaints & Advocacy
Making a complaint about health and care services in Dorset

NHS and social care complaints: Your rights

The right to complain about unsatisfactory service is a key consumer right. The NHS constitution makes a pledge to encourage and welcome feedback on health and care experiences and to use this feedback to improve services.

We know that it is not always easy to find the information you need to make a complaint, so below you can find our guide to making health and care complaints in Dorset.

If you need any further information please do not hesitate to contact us


*Please note:
  • We do not ourselves have powers to investigate individual formal complaints about NHS or social care services.
  • We cannot make a complaint to a service on your behalf.
  • We are not able to offer financial or legal advice.  That should always be sought from a trained specialist such as a solicitor or financial advisor.

Share your views

Tell us about a recent experience – good or bad

Advocacy support

Guidance and practical resources

Advice on making a complaint

Citizens Advice

Healthwatch England has worked with Citizens Advice to produce a series of guides to help you make a complaint or raise a concern about health and care services. You can find out more about what’s involved in making a complaint and see what your next steps might be.

There are tips, tools and practical resources to support you to make an effective complaint.

Contact us if you need more information about this service.


Practical resources and guidance from Citizens Advice

Advocacy support and guidance

Independent Health Complaints Advocacy

If you need support and guidance through the process of making a formal complaint about your NHS care or treatment, you can contact The Advocacy People. They will provide you with a Self Help Information Pack to help you make a complaint about your care or treatment using the NHS Complaints Procedure. Independent Health Complaints Advocacy is a free, independent and confidential service that can help and support you to complain about any aspect of your NHS care or treatment. This includes treatment in a private hospital or care home that is funded by the NHS.

Telephone: 0330 440 9000


Access independent health complaints advocacy services from The Advocacy People

Independent Mental Health Act Advocacy (IMHA)

IMHAs are completely separate from the NHS and Social Services, they work for the Dorset Mental Health Forum, an independent peer led charity. The service is a free and confidential service for any adult or young person who is subject to the Mental Health Act 1983.

What is an Independent Mental Health Advocate?

An Independent Mental Health Act Advocate (IMHA) is an advocate who is specially trained to work with any adult or young person who is subject to the Mental Health Act 1983. This means most people who are detained or ‘sectioned’ under the Act. You can also get help from an IMHA if you are a conditionally discharged restricted patient; or subject to Guardianship under the Act; or under a Supervised Community Treatment Order (STO).

If you are an ‘informal’ patient you will also be eligible for help from an IMHA if you are being considered for serious treatment, such as neurosurgery for a mental disorder, or ECT if you are under 18 years old.

Telephone: 01305 261483

Mental Health Advocacy

Access IMHA services from the Dorset Mental Health Forum

Dorset Children’s Advocacy

National Youth Advocacy Services (NYAS) provides independent advice and support to children and young people receiving a service or entitled to receive one from Children’s Social Care in Dorset.  An advocate is an independent person who can offer one to one support to children and young people.  Advocates can speak up for the young person, give advice, make them aware of their rights, listen to them and represent their views, wishes and feelings.  Their aim is to empower a young person by supporting them to have their say.

Download the NYAS advocacy leaflet

Telephone: 0808 808 1001

Children and Young People

Access advocacy services from National Youth Advocacy Service

Where to direct your complaint

Local contact information

Below are the key contacts should you wish to raise a concern or make a formal complaint about a service you have received from one of the local NHS Trusts, Dorset Integrated Care Board​ or local Dorset Councils.

In order to resolve your complaint effectively you should try to discuss your issue with the relevant local healthcare professional or care manager before making your complaint official.

NHS health complaints

GPs, dentists, opticians or pharmacy services

GPs, dentists, opticians or pharmacy services

Customer Care Officer
NHS Dorset Integrated Care Board
Vespasian House
Barrack Road

Tel: 01305 368926

Dorset County Hospital

Dorset County Hospital

Patient Experience Team
Williams Avenue

Tel: 0800 783 8058

Royal Bournemouth Hospital

Royal Bournemouth Hospital

Patient Advice & Liaison Service (PALS)
Castle Lane East

Tel: 0300 019 4886

Poole Hospital

Poole Hospital

Patient Advice & Liaison Service (PALS)
Longfleet Road
BH15 2JB

Tel: 0300 019 8499

Mental Health Complaints

Mental Health Complaints

Patient Advice & Liaison Service (PALS)
Sentinel House
4-6 Nuffield Industrial Estate
BH17 0RB

Tel: 0800 587 4997

South Western Ambulance Service

South Western Ambulance Service

Patient Experience Team
Abbey Court
Eagle Way

Tel: 01392 261585

Social care complaints

BCP Council

BCP Council

Feedback and complaint links for:

Dorset Council

Dorset Council

Complaints Team
County Hall
Colliton Park

Tel: 01305 221061

Need help?

If you need guidance on how and where to direct a complaint, get in touch with Healthwatch Dorset

My complaint still hasn't been resolved

If after going through the complaints process you are still unhappy with the response you have received, the final route you can take depends upon what service your complaint is about.

The Ombudsman services are free, fair and independent.

Health complaints

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Logo

For complaints that have not been resolved by the NHS in England and UK government departments and other public organisations.

Telephone: 0345 015 4033

Visit Website

Social care complaints

For complaints about councils, all adult social care providers (including care homes and home care agencies) and some other organisations providing local public services.

Telephone: 0300 061 0614

Visit Website

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