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The IMGs guide to navigating the NHS Complaints Process with the Medical Protection Society. Part 1 of 3.

Updated: Jul 6

As an IMG starting your career in the NHS, you bring valuable skills and experience. We understand that adjusting to a new environment can come with uncertainties, particularly regarding the medicolegal landscape. 

This blog series, a collaboration between TrewLink and Medical Protection Society (MPS), aims to keep you safe and equip you with the knowledge and confidence to navigate the NHS complaints process.

Why This Series Matters

Statistics show that IMGs are three times more likely to be referred to the General Medical Council (GMC) by their employers compared to UK counterparts. This series aims to bridge that gap by empowering IMGs with information and support.

The NHS Complaints Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

While the majority of patient interactions are positive, there may be occasions where a concern arises. When a patient is dissatisfied with the level of care they or their loved ones received, they may decide to make a complaint. 

Here's a breakdown of the typical NHS complaints process:

1. PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service):

PALS is an internal NHS service designed to act as a bridge between patients and the NHS. They can help patients navigate the NHS system, address concerns informally, and find solutions to problems. PALS officers can clarify misunderstandings about procedures or treatment plans, explain patient rights and responsibilities, and mediate communication issues between healthcare professionals. Additionally, they can direct patients towards the appropriate complaint pathway if their concerns are not resolved informally.

2. Formal Complaint:

If the PALS stage doesn't resolve the issue, a formal complaint can be filed with the NHS Trust. This usually involves a written document outlining their specific concerns, including dates, times, and a detailed account of what happened from their perspective. The complaint may also include relevant witness statements or medical records. The NHS Trust is obliged to investigate all formal complaints thoroughly and fairly.

3. Investigation by the NHS Trust:

The Trust will launch an internal investigation into the complaint. The investigators will aim to establish the timeline of events, analyse the medical records, and determine whether a complaint is justified. 

You will often be required to provide your account of events and respond to any allegations made in the complaint. The investigation should be conducted thoroughly and fairly, with due consideration given to all parties involved. 

Most complaints are dealt with at a Trust level. If written correspondence is not sufficient to resolve concerns, then a mediated meeting may be held between the different parties to resolve the complaint. 

4. The General Medical Council (GMC):

The GMC is the independent regulator for doctors in the UK. In serious cases that are not resolved at the Trust level, the GMC may launch an investigation if there are serious concerns about a doctor's fitness to practise.

Here an independent review will take place and review all the evidence available. Additionally, doctors under investigation will often be required to undergo an interview to determine their role in the complaint.

Protect Your Career: Partner with MPS in Medicolegal Matters

The NHS complaints process can be incredibly stressful, with potentially serious consequences for your career as an IMG. Unfortunately, IMGs are three times more likely to be referred to the GMC compared to UK graduates and therefore are at greater need of medicolegal protection.


This is where MPS comes in. Founded in 1892, MPS boasts the largest global network of medicolegal experts, offering over 130 years of experience protecting doctors.

With a yearly MPS membership you have access to:

  • Tailored Support for IMGs:

An MPS membership grants access to an essential communication skills training program, specifically designed to help IMGs navigate cultural differences and best practices in the UK healthcare system.

  • Comprehensive Protection:

MPS offers 24/7 emergency support for any medicolegal advice, even before a complaint arises. Should a complaint be filed, they provide expert legal guidance and representation throughout the process. For added support, they even offer confidential counselling services for any issues affecting your work.

  • Dedicated Support:

As an IMG, you have access to a dedicated IMG manager who can answer any questions you have about membership and its benefits for your specific situation. 

Take Control of Your Career:

Learn more about how MPS membership can protect your career. Visit MPS’ dedicated IMG Hub for detailed information and to start your membership application process.

Stay tuned for the next instalments in this series!

  • Part 2: Common Reasons Why IMGs Receive Complaints This blog will explore the reasons why IMGs may be more susceptible to complaints and offer strategies for mitigating these risks.

  • Part 3: The IMG's Guide to Handling Complaints This practical guide will equip you with the knowledge and steps to effectively address complaints when they arise.

Remember: By understanding the NHS complaints process and the support available from Medical Protection Society, you can navigate any concerns with confidence. Open communication, proper documentation, and seeking support early on are key to a positive outcome.

Additional Resources:

Note: This blog provides a general overview and should not be considered legal advice. It's always best to consult with MPS directly for specific guidance on any complaint you may face.

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