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National Statistics
Publication, Part of

Data on Written Complaints in the NHS - 2019-20 Quarter 4 [NS]

National statistics
Publication Date:
Geographic Coverage:
Geographical Granularity:
Ambulance Trusts, Care Trusts, Clinical Commissioning Groups, Hospital and Community Health Services, Hospital Trusts, Hospital Sites, Independent Sector Health Care Providers, Mental Health Trusts, NHS Trusts, GP practices, Regions, Dental practices
Date Range:
01 Apr 2015 to 31 Mar 2020


This quarterly collection is a count of written complaints made by or on behalf of patients about NHS Hospital and Community Health Services (HCHS) in England. They are collected via the KO41a form.

Key Facts

During 2019-20 (1 April 2019 – 31 March 2020):

  • There were 113,241 new HCHS written complaints compared to 116,247 in 2018-19.
  • During the year 110,060 complaints were resolved, of these 34,133 (31.0%) were upheld, 36,240 (32.9%) were partially upheld and 39,687 (36.1%) were not upheld.


For the period 1 January – 31 March 2020 (Q4):

  • There were 26,293 new HCHS written complaints compared to 28,474 in 2019-20 Q3.
  • During the period 27,103 complaints were resolved, of these 8,281 (30.6%) were upheld, 9,014 (33.3%) were partially upheld and 9,808 (36.2%) were not upheld.

For the 26,293 new complaints made:

  • There were 35,439 complaints by service area1. The largest proportion was attributed to inpatient services with 34.1% (12,087) followed by outpatient services at 22.7% (8,031).
  • There were 46,192 complaints by subject area1, of which 26.6% (12,273) were complaints about clinical treatment. The largest proportion by all subject areas were about communication with 16.4% (7,576) then patient care including nutrition/hydration at 12.7% (5,874).
  • There were 39,195 complaints by profession1. The largest proportion was attributed to medical staff with 42.7% (16,722) followed by nursing staff at 23.8% (9,333).


1 A written complaint can cover multiple subject, service and professional areas. Therefore, the total complaints by subject, service and profession can be greater than the number of new complaints.

13 January 2021 correction. This page incorrectly showed the number of complaints by subject area as 49,192. This has now been corrected to 46,192.


Related Links

Last edited: 13 January 2021 1:36 pm