If you are unhappy with the quality of service you receive from staff in the Department of Health (DoH) in Northern Ireland, we will endeavour to set things right.

The Department is committed to providing the highest standard of service to all its customers. Our aim is to get things right first time.

How do I make a complaint against the Department of Health

The DoH Complaints Procedure is designed to address any specific concerns our customers have that relate to the quality of customer service provided by DoH staff.

For example this might include:

  • maladministration
  • delays in receiving information/responses within accepted timeframes (excluding Freedom of Information and Data Protection requests)
  • difficulty in contacting the correct office, branch or person
  • incorrect information or guidance issued by the Department
  • attitude and conduct of DoH staff

The procedures set out below explains how you can make a complaint about the quality of our services. Please note that there are separate complaints procedures in place for any dealings with health and social care organisations outlined below.

Informal Procedure

Our aim is to resolve any complaint quickly and you are invited initially to bring any matter of concern to the attention of the Departmental official with whom you have been dealing. However, if you still feel dissatisfied after this approach, you may initiate a formal complaint in writing.

Formal Procedures – Step 1

All formal complaints should be in writing.  Please provide as much information as possible along with contact details, such as your name, telephone number and postal address.  We will handle any personal data you provide in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.

You can write to us at the following address:

Complaints Officer
Corporate Management Directorate
Department of Health
Annexe 3
Castle Buildings
Stormont Estate

Or email us at complaints@health-ni.gov.uk

In all cases the Department will:

  • acknowledge receipt of your complaint.  We will normally issue a letter of acknowledgement within two working days of receiving your complaint
  • treat your complaint in a confidential manner
  • refer your complaint to the relevant Director
  • carry out a thorough investigation
  • aim to provide a written reply to your complaint with a full explanation of the outcome of our investigations within 20 working days and, where this is not possible, let you know when a reply can be expected
  • apologise if we have made a mistake or if a problem has been caused by us
  • let you know what we have done to put things right

Formal Procedures – Step 2

If you are still not satisfied with our response, you can write to the Complaints Officer giving your reasons.  The Complaints Officer will ask another Senior Official to undertake a review.  The official will aim to reply within 20 working days.  If this deadline cannot be met, we will advise you when you can expect a full response.  At this stage you will be advised that you have used all the steps in Department’s complaints procedures.

The Department also has in place an Unacceptable Behaviour policy which should be considered alongside the Complaints procedure.

Making a complaint about top management in the department

If you are a member of the public or an external stakeholder and your complaint is about a staff member in top management of the department, there is a different procedure for making a complaint.

Top Management in the NI Civil Service and its agencies means the Head of the Civil Service, Permanent Secretaries and anyone in a Grade 3/Deputy Secretary position (or equivalent level). 

Making a complaint about top management in the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) – Department of Finance website.

Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman

Our complaints procedure is not a substitute for your right to complain to the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman's Office.

You should note, however, that the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman will generally expect you to have used all the steps of the Department’s internal Complaints Procedure before accepting your complaint.

Details of the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman's procedures can be found on the NIPSO Website.


Making a complaint about the Health and Social Care service

Responsibility for dealing with complaints about health and social care services in Northern Ireland is placed with the provider of the service.  The following section provides information for health and social care professionals and the general public on matters relating to health and social care complaints.

HSC Complaints - Information for the Public 

If you are unhappy with the care or treatment you receive from the Health and Social Care service in Northern Ireland, you have the right to complain. You will find information on how to make a complaint on the nidirect website.

HSC Complaints - Standards and Guidelines 

The following documents provide detailed guidance on the HSC Complaints Procedure

HSC Complaints - Directions 

The following HSC Complaints Directions have been issued to the Health and Social Care Service. 

HSC Complaints Statistics 

HSC Complaints Statistics

Making a complaint against the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS)

Details of how to make a complaint about the NI Ambulance Service (NIAS) can be found on the NIAS Website.

Making a complaint against the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS)

If your complaint is about the NI Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) follow these procedures.

Raising a concern (HSC Whistleblowing Framework and Model Policy)

All of us at one time or another may have concerns about what is happening at work. HSC organisations wants you to feel able to raise your concerns about any issue troubling you with your managers at any time. They expect their managers to listen to those concerns, take them seriously and take action to resolve the concern, either through providing information which gives assurance or taking action to resolve the concern.

HSC organisations recognise that many issues are raised by staff and addressed immediately by line managers – this is very much encouraged.

The HSC Whistleblowing Framework and Model Policy is aimed at those issues and concerns which are not resolved, require help to get resolved or are about serious underlying concerns. It applies to all staff (employees, workers) involved in the work of an HSC organisation and has been adopted by all HSC organisations.

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