Independent Health Complaints Advocacy Service (IHCAS)

A free and independent service that can help you make a complaint about your National Health Service (NHS) care or treatment.

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Welcome to the Independent Health Complaints Advocacy Service (IHCAS)

We can provide you with the information you need, and a specialist Advocate, to support you to make a complaint about your NHS care or treatment. We can help you to understand the options you have, the implication of each option and then support you to take the course of action you wish to take.

3 reasons to choose Independent Health Complaints Advocacy Service

  • Free and independent service

    This is a free service available to all residents of Brighton and Hove and is independent of the NHS

  • Self-help pack

    You can download our self-help information pack if you wish to handle your complaint without an Advocate

  • Support from a trained Advocate

    Our Advocates can support you through the NHS complaints procedures including helping you to write letters and attend meetings with you, supporting you all the way

How do I contact IHCAS?

If you want to contact us, you can call direct on 01273 229 002. If we cannot take your call, please leave a message – we will get back to you within 2 to 3 working days.

Alternatively you can email us at and we will get back to you within 2 to 3 working days.

We were awarded the Advocacy Quality Performance Mark in September 2016:

Advocacy QPM Award

Information Pack

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Read our information pack first

Download our information pack which will give you all the information you need to make a complaint yourself. If you still need more help you can contact our Advocate who will be able to support and guide you through the process.



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Frequently Asked Questions about IHCAS

  1. What is IHCAS?

    The Brighton and Hove Independent Health Complaints Advocacy Service (IHCAS) is a free and independent service that can help Brighton and Hove residents make a complaint about care or treatment provided by the NHS. Our trained advocates will support you to understand whether you wish to pursue a complaint and provide you with the support you may need to make your complaint.

  2. Who can access the service?

    Any resident of Brighton and Hove who wishes to make a complaint against their NHS care or treatment, wherever that was provided.

  3. How can an IHCAS Advocate support me?

    Your IHCAS Advocate will listen to your experience and help you to decide if you would like to receive their support for you to make a formal complaint. Your Advocate will be able to give you information about the different ways you can make a complaint about NHS services.

  4. Is there a time limit for making a complaint?

    YES. You should make your complaint within twelve months of the incident happening or within twelve months of you realising that you have something to complain about.

  5. Do I have a right to complain?

    Your right to complain is set out in the NHS Constitution 2013. The Constitution also sets out what you can expect from the NHS when you make a complaint.

  6. What is PALS?

    PALS is the Patient Advice and Liaison Service. PALS Royal Sussex County Hospital 01273 696955 x4029; PALS Princess Royal Hospital Haywards heath 01444 441881 x5909. Or email (10 – 4 Monday to Friday).

  7. Should I complain?

    The NHS Complaints Procedure may be the best route to follow if: 1) You have raised your concerns but they have not been fully resolved; 2) What happened raised serious questions about standards of care; 3) You wish to raise complex issues which require investigation.

  8. What is the NHS Complaints Procedure?

    The NHS Complaints Procedure focuses on resolving your complaint locally and aims to respond to you efficiently, sensitively and promptly. All NHS services have complaints procedures and in most cases they will probably be best placed to deal with your complaint. Most NHS organisations will have details of how to contact them about complaints on their website. When raising a concern with the NHS you can expect: to be treated with respect and courtesy; to be offered support to help you raise your concerns; a speedy solution to be offered where possible; an explanation of what happened; an apology if appropriate; changes to be made, so the same thing will not happen again; better communication between NHS staff and patients.

  9. What is Local Resolution?

    The aim of Local Resolution is to try to sort out your problem directly with the NHS service. Local Resolution is your opportunity to explain what it is you are unhappy about and what you would like to happen. It gives you and the NHS service time to listen and discuss your concerns.

  10. Can I complain if I am not the patient?

    Yes, you can make a complaint on behalf of a child, an elderly relative or on behalf of someone you care for, if you have their consent.

  11. How do I complain?

    You can explain what happened to you: In Person; On the Telephone; By Email or In a Letter. NHS organisations tend to prefer having complaints in writing but if you would rather telephone or go in person, the Complaints Manager should make a written record of your complaint. The issues you raise shoudl be written down and a copy given to you.

  12. Who do I complain to if my complaint is about my GP or Dentist?

    For complaints about your GP, Dentist, Optician, Pharmacist, health Centre or other independent NHS contractor, you can complain directly to the NHS organisation by contacting the person in charge of complaints. In most GP or Dental practices, this will be the Practice Manager. If you do not feel comfortable in making a complaint directly to your NHS service, you can complain directly to NHS England who have paid for the NHS services you have used.

  13. How can I contact NHS England?

    By Post: NHS England, PO Box 06738, Redditch B97 9PT; By Email with ‘For the attention of the Complaints Manager’ in the subject line; By telephone 0300 311 22 33 (Monday to Friday 8 am to 6 pm, excluding English Bank Holidays). PLEASE NOTE – it is important to raise everything that you are unhappy about, as new issues cannot be later introduced as part of the same complaint.

  14. What do I do if my complaint concerns more than one NHS organisation?

    If your complaint concerns more than one NHS organisation, you only need to send a letter to one of the organisations. They will contact the other organisation(s) involved and jointly respond to your complaint.

  15. What will happen after I have made my complaint?

    You should receive an acknowledgement of your complaint either verbally or in writing within three working days of making your complaint. Sometimes it may be possible to resolve your concerns immediately but, if this does not happen, the services that you have complained to must offer to contact you to discuss your complaint and arrange a plan to resolve your concerns and agree with you a timescale for resolving the issues and how they will keep you informed of progress.

  16. Where can I get more information?

    You can download our ‘Self-help’ Informaton Pack here. Or you can call our Advocate on 01273 229002 who can give you more information on the telephone or arrange to meet with you.

  17. Can you help me if my complaint is against an NHS service delivered outside Brighton & Hove?

    Yes, as long as you reside in Brighton & Hove we can help you, even if your care or treatment was provided in another part of the country.

Our Partners

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IHCAS works in partnership with other specialist providers

Our partners are:

More information about Healthwatch

“The independent watchdog for health and social care services in your city”

  • Listens to your views and concerns about local health and social care services
  • Uses your views to feedback to the organisations responsible for health and social care services
  • Makes reports and recommendations about how health and social care services could or should be improved
  • Influences local services based on the evidence that it gathers and through its position on the Health and Wellbeing Board in the city
  • Works with Healthwatch England and the Care Quality Commission to build a national picture of people’s views on health and social care services and where necessary recommend investigation or special review of services

Healthwatch Brighton and Hove can provide you with information and signposting about local health and social care services. This includes how to access them and what to do if things go wrong. It can help you with queries related to local NHS and social care services, including those provided by GPs/family doctors, dental surgeons, pharmacists, opticians. It is here to listen to your concerns, suggestions, questions and comments.

Helpline: 01273 23 40 40 (Monday-Friday)
Helpline email:


Healthwatch Brighton and Hove Information Prescriptions website ( can provide you with information about local health and social care services and ways that you can be supported to improve your health and wellbeing.