Concerns and complaints

Your complaint is very important to us. However, our staff are currently prioritising work to manage and limit the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), which means you may experience a delay in receiving a response to your complaint.

If you would like to raise a concern or complaint about our services, or the care that you or a family member have received, you can do so in a number of ways.

Many concerns and questions can be resolved quickly through a discussion with our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) before or without the need to start a more formal complaints process. Dorset HealthCare's PALS helpline is available on Freephone 0800 587 4997 or via email at

Read more about our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS).


If you feel that we haven't given you the care you expected or needed, and you don't believe our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) can help, you can tell us about it by making a complaint. You normally have about a year to do this*. Making a complaint will not have any adverse effect on your current or future care and treatment.

If you are unable to complain yourself, you can choose someone else to complain on your behalf. You can make a complaint in a number of ways:

Write to:
Dorset HealthCare
Sentinel House
4-6 Nuffield Industrial Estate
Dorset BH17 0RB

01202 277024 / 277025


If you make a complaint via these routes, a senior manager will investigate your concerns. You will be kept updated throughout the investigation, and we will write to you at the end of the investigation to let you know what has been done to resolve your complaint.

If you are unable to complain yourself, you can ask someone else to complain on your behalf, e.g. a relative, carer or an advocate (see advocacy services, below), with your consent.

*Under the NHS Complaints Procedure, complaints are usually investigated only if they are made within 12 months of the event, although this time limit can be waived if there are good reasons for the delay.


Advocacy services

If you are unhappy with the service you have received from the NHS, free and independent advocacy services can help you to make your complaint and offer support and representation.

An advocate is someone who can support you in a number of different ways; for example, an advocate might help you access information you need, write letters on your behalf or go with you to meetings.

The health complaints advocacy service in Dorset and Southampton is provided by an organisation called The Advocacy People. Their contact details are:

The Advocacy People

PO Box 375, Hastings, East Sussex, TN34 9HU

Tel: 0330 440 9000

Text 80800, starting message with PEOPLE


The Dorset Mental Health Forum also provides Independent Mental Health Act Advocacy (IMHA) which is a free and confidential service for any adult or young person in Dorset who is subject to the Mental Health Act 1983, as well as a general mental health advocacy service for anyone over 18 years of age in Dorset who is experiencing mental health problems.

Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman and Care Quality Commission (CQC)

If you are unhappy with the outcome of your complaint you can contact the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, at:

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
Millbank Tower

Tel: 0345 015 4033

Complaints about the use of the Mental Health Act 1983 and the Care Quality Commission (CQC)

We are able to investigate complaints about care and treatment provided prior to, during and after a period of detention under the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA). 

If you are concerned about the appropriateness of your detention under the MHA and wish to be released from your Section, you will need to apply for a Mental Health Act Hospital Manager’s Review or Mental Health Act Tribunal.

The CQC is the independent regulator of health care and adult social care services in England. The Mental Health Act 1983 gives the CQC the power to investigate certain complaints about the care of patients whose rights are or have been restricted under the Mental Health Act.  This includes care that has been provided during a period of detention in hospital or while on a guardianship or community treatment order.

If you are unhappy with the outcome of your complaint to Dorset HealthCare, you can also raise your complaint with the CQC, who can be contacted on:

Telephone:  03000 616161 and press ‘1’ to speak to the mental health team.


Write to:  CQC Mental Health Act, Citygate, Gallowgate, Newcastle NE1 4PA


Other useful websites

You may also find the following organisations and websites helpful if you have a concern or complaint about your healthcare:

Patients Association

Healthwatch Dorset

Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group

NHS England – deals with all concerns relating to GP surgeries and dental practices

NHS Website

Care Quality Commission

Compliments, concerns and complaints