Our contact centre opening hours are Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm, except Wednesdays when we open at the later time of 9.30am.
How can NHS England’s Customer Contact Centre help me?
NHS England commissions or buys primary care services for local communities. For example:
- Pharmacy Services
We also commission prison and military health services plus some ‘specialised’ services.
Our Customer Contact Centre advisors can provide advice and information about the services that we buy and explain how to access them. They can also advise you about:
- giving feedback or making a complaint if you are unhappy about your NHS care or the service you have received.
- making a Freedom of Information Request
You can find more information about the help and advice that we can provide below.
However, we are not a clinical service and our advisors can’t provide medical advice. If you require medical advice please contact your GP, your local NHS Walk In or Urgent Care Centre. For non-emergency medical advice, you can also contact the NHS 111 sign language service. If you are in an emergency situation and require urgent medical attention you should contact the emergency 999 service.
How does the BSL service work?
The BSL interpreter will relay your conversation to one of our advisors. In many cases, they will be able to answer your query straight away. If they can’t they will arrange for someone to look into your enquiry and get back to you. If you would like us to, we can call you back via our BSL service if you are using the InterpreterNow smartphone app.
To use the service you will need:
- a modern computer or laptop with a webcam; or
- the InterpreterNow app installed on a smartphone or tablet. The app is available for Apple and Android devices.
If your video call fails while you are connected to the interpreter, try calling again. You may need to restart your computer or refresh the app.
It is important that you have a good broadband internet connection through either WiFi or 3G/4G. If connecting via broadband, it is best if no one else is using your internet connection while you are on the call, especially not playing online games, streaming music or watching films.
How do I give feedback or make a complaint about an NHS service?
Most NHS treatment goes well but sometimes things can go wrong. If you are unhappy with your care or the services you have received, it is important to tell the relevant service so they can improve.
There are two ways to tell the NHS what you think:
- Give feedback
- Make a complaint
If you are unhappy with an NHS service, it is worthwhile discussing your concerns early on with the provider of the service, as they may be able to sort the issue out quickly. Most problems can be dealt with at this stage. However, in some cases you may feel more comfortable discussing your concerns with someone not directly involved in your care.
When making a complaint, you have two options. You can complain the healthcare provider, for example your GP, your dentist or the hospital where you were treated. Or, you can complain to the organisation that pays for the service – the commissioner.
Primary care, that is care provided by a GP, dentist, optician or pharmacist, is commissioned by NHS England. Secondary care includes hospital care, mental health services and community services such as district nursing. These services are commissioned by local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).
Our advisors can explain the complaints process in more detail and if you want to complain to NHS England about a service that we commission, they can also register your complaint and explain what happens next. If your complaint is about secondary care only you should contact the provider or the local CCG.
If you have already made a complaint and are unhappy with the outcome, you can contact the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and ask them to review the way that your complaint was handled. The PHSO also provides a BSL service and you can find more information about this on their website.
Can I get support to make a complaint?
Making a complaint can seem difficult, but support is available. As a starting point, you can contact your local council or your local Healthwatch – they will be able to advise you about NHS advocacy services in your area. Please be aware that you may not be able to contact these organisations using the InterpreterNow service depending on what BSL service(s) they have in place.
If your complaint is about the care or service that you have received in a hospital, most hospitals have a Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS). Contact the hospital or visit their website for more information.
How do I make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request?
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 provides a right of access to a wide range of information held by public authorities, including the NHS. The purpose is to promote greater openness and accountability.
You can seek any recorded information that you think NHS England may hold. Before you make a request, check whether the information you seek is already available on NHS England’s website. You may well find the answer to your question is already there.
However, if the information is your own personal data, then you should make a subject access request (SAR) under the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998, and not under the Freedom of Information Act. Our advisors can explain the process in more detail.
Requests under the Freedom of Information Act usually have to be in writing, and NHS England has to respond to requests within the statutory time limit which is 20 working days of receipt.
However, if you are unable to make a written request, we can take a note of your request using our BSL service. We will then send you a copy of the request and ask you to approve and return this to us. The statutory time limit for replies will begin once we receive your approved copy.
What type of information will NHS England’s Customer Contact Centre record about you?
NHS England’s Customer Contact Centre does not have access to patient information, for example health/medical records. When you contact us for the first time, we will record some personal information to enable us to create a new customer record.
Where appropriate we will also record information about the service that you are enquiring or making a complaint about, for example the name and address of your dentist if you wish to make a complaint about your dental treatment.
The Data Protection Act gives you the right to ask for a copy of the information NHS England holds about you. This is known as a subject access request (SAR), and our advisors will be able to provide more information about the process.