Is there a time limit for making a complaint?

For NHS patients

In England and Wales, complaints should be made within 12 months of the date the matter occurred, or from when the complainant first knew about it. However, it's still advisable to consider complaints made outside the time limit if it's possible to investigate them fairly and effectively.

Explain to the complainant if relevant information is no longer available and consider what steps, if any, can reasonably be taken to investigate their complaint.

In Scotland, the complainant has six months from when they become aware of the subject matter of the complaint, provided that is no more than 12 months after the date of the incident in question.

In Northern Ireland, complainants generally have six months to make a complaint, from the date of the incident in question.

If the complainant didn't know there was cause for complaint, they have six months from when they became aware of it, or 12 months from the date of the incident - whichever is shorter.

For private patients

Although there are no set time limits, the Dental Complaints Service can look into private complaints raised with them within 12 months of the treatment taking place, or within 12 months of a patient becoming aware they have something to complain about.

This page was correct at publication on 07/01/2022. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.