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Publication, Part of

Data on Written Complaints in the NHS, 2021-22

National statistics

National Statistics

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Data on Written Complaints in the NHS, 2021-22

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This publication shows a count of written complaints made by (or on behalf of) patients, received between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022 in England. The two data collections are:

i) KO41a – NHS Hospital and Community Health Service (HCHS)

ii) KO41b – Primary Care (GP and Dental)

Key Facts

All NHS Written Complaints: (Hospital and Community Health Services and Primary Care)

  • The total number of all reported written complaints in 2021-22 was 225,570.
  • This was equivalent to 398.9 complaints per 100,000 head of population.
  • The proportion of complaints being fully upheld are 32.8% for primary care and 26.8% for HCHS.


Hospital and Community Health Services (HCHS)

  • The total number of all HCHS written complaints was 105,506 in 2021-22, an increase of 21,607 (25.8%) from 2020-21 marking a return towards levels similar to those observed before the pandemic.
  • There were 189,336 subject areas1 recorded against these 105,506 complaints.
  • Clinical treatment accounted for 48,557 (25.6%) of these.
  • The largest proportion of complaints received by individual subject area (including clinical treatment) was Communications with 17.4% followed by Patient Care including Nutrition / Hydration at 12.7% and then Values and Behaviour at 10.6%.
  • There were 148,721 recorded against the profession1 of the individual highlighted in the complaint. The largest proportion was attributed to medical staff with 39.3% then nursing staff at 23.8%.


Primary Care (GP and Dental)

  • The total number of primary care written complaints in 2021-22 was 120,064, an increase of 33,950 (39.4%) from 2020-21.
  • A third of all complaints (32.8%) were upheld in 2021-22. Around half (50.5%) were not upheld with the remainder (16.7%) being partially upheld.
  • There were 129,320 subject areas1 recorded against all complaints, with 15.4% of these relating to Clinical Treatment, 13.2% relating to Communications and 11.4% relating to Staff Attitude/Behaviours/Values.

Of new complaints to:

  • GP practices - the most common causes for complaint are; Communications (13.5%), Clinical Treatment (13.3%), and Staff Attitude/Behaviour/Values (12.6%).
  • Dental practices - the most common causes for complaint are; Clinical Treatment (22.0%), Charging/Costs (21.5%) and Appointment Availability/Length (11.8%).
  • NHS England - over a third relate to Clinical Treatment (35.1%), followed by Communications (12.3%) and Care Planning (7.3%).


  • There were 122,719 recorded in the Staff Group1 section against all complaints with the largest proportion (32.7%) relating to Other/No staff involved, then 32.4% against Practitioners (GPs or Dentists) followed by Administrative staff (including Receptionists) with 24.9%.


1 A complaint can cover multiple Subject Areas and Staff Groups


Last edited: 23 November 2022 2:49 pm