The NHS in England reported receiving 208,626 written complaints during 2017-18 – 0.1% more than the previous year, new figures published by NHS Digital show.

This equates to one complaint per 265 people in the overall England population.

Today’s report, Data on Written Complaints in the NHS, 2017-18, includes the number of written complaints about both primary and secondary care. In primary care, reported complaints have risen by 4.5%, but have fallen by 3.3% in secondary care, compared to the previous year.

There were 94,637 written complaints to primary care services, which includes GP and dental practices in 2017-18, compared to 90,579 in 2016-17. This is equivalent to one complaint per 584 people in the overall England population.

There were 113,989 complaints relating to secondary care, provided by hospitals and community health services in 2017-18, as compared to 117,836 in 2016-17. This is equivalent to one complaint per 485 people in the overall England population.

On average, there were 572 written complaints about the NHS every day in 2017-18, which is one more than the daily average in 2016-17.

A single written complaint can cover multiple subjects, service areas, and professions. This means the total number of written complaints involving a subject, service, or profession could be greater than the total number of written complaints.

Factors affecting the number of complaints may include the visibility of complaints procedures to patients and quality of recording, as well as the quality of services patients receive.

The report provides a breakdown of secondary care complaints by profession, showing:

  • The medical profession received the highest number of written complaints with 65,737, a 1.2% decrease from 2016-17 when there were 66,502 complaints
  • The nursing profession received the second highest number of written complaints with 35,873, a 2.5% decrease from 2016-17 when there were 36,784
  • Midwifery was the profession with the highest percentage increase in written complaints, rising by 11% from 3,411 in 2016-17 to 3,785 in 2017-18
  • The profession with the highest percentage decrease in written complaints was health visitors. The number dropped by 13.3% from 452 in 2016-17 to 392 in 2017-18.