Consultation on changes to the Data on Written Complaints in the NHS – Primary Care (GP and Dental) KO41b collection

Closed 26 Mar 2021

Opened 12 Feb 2021


The NHS complaints procedure is the statutorily based mechanism for dealing with complaints about NHS care and treatment. All NHS organisations in England are required to operate the procedure according to the April 2009 Complaints Regulations.

NHS Digital currently collects data on complaints regarding:

  • NHS Hospital and Community Health Services (HCHS) – collected quarterly via the KO41a return from secondary care providers.
  • NHS primary care services – collected annually via the KO41b return from GP and Dental practices.

From these collections NHS Digital usually produce 5 publications each year. 4 publications for the quarterly HCHS complaints data and an annual report that includes the primary care complaints data and an annual summary of the HCHS data. These are available on the NHS Digital website here. The Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 had the following impact on this schedule;

  • the annual information requirement relating to the 2019-20 period was not collected to ease the pressures faced by primary care providers in responding to Covid-19. Further information can be found on the NHS Digital complaints data publication page.
  • Primary care providers were asked to continue to record and manage complaints effectively during this period for local service improvement purposes.

Why we are consulting

NHS Digital are carrying out this consultation to ensure that these collections and future publications deliver maximum value for the minimum burden on NHS organisations and that all the items collected remain relevant. This consultation covers the primary care (KO41b) complaints collection.

This collection is large and places significant administrative burden on the organisations making the return, due in part to the manual nature of its collection and submission. The primary care (KO41b) return collects 84 items from GP and dental care providers. This return was last reviewed in 2015, which resulted in a revised collection for the 2016-17 return onwards.

NHS Digital is developing a bespoke web reporting tool for the submission of data by GP practices to further ease the burden on GP data providers. The NHS Digital Data Collections team will perform testing on the tool with GP Practices prior to its launch. It is expected Dental practices will continue to submit data via a web tool provided by NHS Business Services Authority (NHS BSA).

What happens next

The responses to this consultation will be analysed and preferred options will be implemented by NHS Digital.


  • All Areas


  • Anyone from any background


  • Healhcare data