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Complaining about private healthcare

When you buy private healthcare you are buying a service. By law, a service should be carried out with reasonable care and skill and in a reasonable time.

By law the practitioner must also stick to everything that was agreed between you. This agreement is known as a contract.

This page tells you what to do if you have a complaint against your private medical practitioner.

Top tips

Negligence or misconduct

If you think your practitioner has been negligent in their care towards you or has committed professional misconduct, there are certain things you should do.

Complaining about negligence or misconduct – private health

General complaints

Whatever your complaint, you should complain formally to your practitioner first. It may be best to write a letter and keep a copy.

If you can’t resolve a problem by dealing directly with a practitioner, you can contact the professional organisation that regulates that area of practice.

The professional organisation will usually only help with complaints about serious misconduct, although they may be willing to arbitrate informally on other matters. They will usually advise that unless you are complaining about serious misconduct, you should take your complaint to court.

Discrimination

It is against the law for private healthcare providers to discriminate against you, for example, because of your age, sex, sexual orientation, race, disability or religion. If you feel you have been discriminated against, you can complain about this.

For more information about discrimination, look on the website of the Equality and Human Rights Commission at: www.equalityhumanrights.com.

Private hospitals

If you want to complain about the service you received in a private hospital, you should take this up with the hospital first. If you're not satisfied with the response, or the standard of care or management of a private hospital or clinic, you can report this to a regulatory body.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland

Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) is part of NHS Scotland. HIS inspects independent hospitals, clinics, hospices and private psychiatric hospitals in Scotland. There is information on how to make a complaint about independent healthcare services on the HIS website at www.healthcareimprovementscotland.org.

Independent Healthcare Advisory Services (IHAS)

Independent Healthcare Advisory Services (IHAS) is an association which represents many independent hospitals and clinics. If your practitioner is a member of IHAS, it must comply with a Code of Practice for handling patient complaints and have access to an independent adjudication service provided by IHAS.

Independent Healthcare Advisory Services (IHAS)

Telephone: 020 7379 8598
Email: info@independenthealthcare.org.uk
Website: www.independenthealthcare.org.uk

Private health clinics providing cosmetic treatments

From 1 April 2017 any healthcare professional who operates a clinic offering non-surgical cosmetic treatments will be committing an offence if they fail to register with Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS). The penalties include a fine of up to £5,000 and up to three months’ imprisonment.

You can check on the website of Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) if the private clinic has been registered. If it has not been registered you may want to make a complaint.

A private clinic providing non-surgical cosmetic treatment does not have to be registered with Healthcare Improvement Scotland if the staff providing the treatment are not healthcare professionals.

Private dental treatment - complaints

If you have a complaint about private dental treatment which you can't sort out with the practitioner concerned, you can contact the Dental Complaints Service. This is a free service which tries to resolve complaints about wrong or poor treatment, unclear pricing, delays and rudeness.

Dental Complaints Service

Telephone: 020 8253 0800
Email: info@dentalcomplaints.org.uk
Website: www.dentalcomplaints.org.uk

Next steps

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