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Make a Complaint

If you are unhappy with the service you have received from a public body we may be able to help you. If you have been unable to sort out the problem with the body concerned you can complain to us online or you can download our complaint form Complaint Form.pdf (size 65 KB).

From 24 August 2015 the public can bring complaints to the Ombudsman about any private nursing home in receipt of public funding under subvention or the Nursing Home Support Scheme. You can read our Factsheet here.

We can examine complaints about:

  • Government departments and Offices (for example the Department of Social Protection or the Revenue Commissioners)
  • Local authorities
  • The Health Service Executive (HSE)
  • Agencies, such as charities and voluntary bodies, that deliver health and social services on behalf of the HSE
  • All public bodies covered by the Disability Act 2005. (Details of how to make such a complaint can be found in the Disability Act 2005 section of this site.)
  • Publicly funded third level educational bodies
  • Certain regulatory bodies. An indicative list of these bodies can be found here.
  • Other bodies listed in Part I of the First Schedule to the Ombudsman (Amendment) Act 2012
  • The Ombudsman CANNOT examine complaints about bodies listed in Part II of the First Schedule OR the Second Schedule

Anyone can make a complaint to the Ombudsman. You can complain on your own behalf or for someone else if they ask you to. You can make a complaint as an individual or as a public representative and as a business or organisation.

You should complain to the Ombudsman as soon as possible but not later than 12 months after the action you want to complain about occurred or you became aware of it occurring.

What can I complain about?

Generally speaking you can complain about the administrative actions of the public bodies which are open to investigation by the Ombudsman.

The following are typical examples of what people may complain about:

  • entitlement to old age and retirement pensions administered by the Department of Social and Family Affairs;
  • disputes about income tax credits granted by the Revenue Commissioners;
  • entitlement to higher education grants administered by the Department of Education and Science;
  • entitlement to livestock grants administered by the Department of Agriculture and Food;
  • entitlement to local authority housing;
  • disputes about the medical card scheme administered by the Health Service Executive.


If you read the Ombudsman's Annual Reports or the Case Studies published elsewhere on this website you will see how the Ombudsman has helped people from many different walks of life to resolve their complaints.

If the Ombudsman cannot deal with your particular complaint we provide links on our website to other complaint handling bodies which may be able to help you.

What should I do first?

Before you contact us you must first try to solve your problem with the public body concerned. In some cases there may be formal local appeals systems which you will have to go through before coming to the Ombudsman, for example, the Agriculture Appeals Office, the Social Welfare Appeals Office etc. If you fail to resolve your problem and you still feel the body concerned has not treated you fairly, you can contact the Ombudsman.

How do I make a complaint?

Complaints can be made in writing, by telephone, by calling to our Office, by email or by using the online complaint form. You can also download our complaint form Complaint Form.pdf (size 158.3 KB). Remember to send us any relevant documentation or correspondence you have which you think might help us.

How will my complaint be dealt with?

We will first make sure that we can deal with your complaint. Then we may ask the public body concerned to send us a report. If we need to, we may examine their files and records and question officials. It can take time to gather the information we need.

We will then decide whether:

  • your complaint is valid, and
  • you have suffered due to the action or decision of the public body.

If we decide that you have suffered, and the public body has not taken steps to put this right, we may recommend that it does so. We may ask the body to:

  • review what it has done,
  • change its decision and/or,
  • offer you an explanation, an apology and/or financial compensation.

In most cases, we handle the complaint in an informal way. We may discuss the problem directly with the public body or examine the relevant files. In more complex cases, we may need to carry out a detailed investigation. More information on how we deal with complaints can be found here.

How long will it take to deal with my complaint?

It is not possible to say exactly how long it will take. The time it takes us to reach a decision will vary from case to case, depending on how complicated it is. For example, it can take longer if we need to meet with officials from the public body concerned.

We will keep in touch with you to let you know what we are doing with your complaint and we will do our best to resolve your complaint as quickly as possible.

Can I Appeal A Decision?

Yes, we have an internal Appeals Procedure in the event that you are not satisfied with the outcome of your complaint to us. You can read about our Appeals Procedure here.