PHIN’s role is to make the healthcare market more transparent, which we do by publishing data about hospitals and consultants and the procedures they perform for patients. However, healthcare is a complicated area, and we can’t do everything, so we work with many other organisations who also help to improve patient care.

Patient associations and groups
Private Medical Insurers
Royal Colleges and Medical Professional Associations

We’ve put together details of some of the organisations who may be able to help you in different healthcare situations. If you are looking to make a complaint as a private patient, then please see our guidance on the subject.

If you want to recommend another organisation for inclusion on this page, please contact us at:

Patient associations and groups

There are several organisations that work with, and on behalf of, patients in the public and private healthcare sectors. These include:

Action against medical accidents: Works to support people affected by avoidable harm in healthcare; to help them achieve justice; and to promote better patient safety for all. See:

The Independent Sector Complaints Adjudication Service (ISCAS): provides independent adjudication on complaints about ISCAS subscribers. ISCAS is a voluntary subscriber scheme for most private healthcare providers. Visit:

The Patients Association: is an independent patient charity campaigning for improvements in health and social care for patients. Uniquely for a charity with a remit covering all health and care issues, it works with patients directly: they are its members and supporters, and the people who benefit from the organisation’s help and information services. Through its helpline it provides information to thousands of people each year about the health and social care system. See:

The Patient Safety Commissioner: The Patient Safety Commissioner is a champion for patients and leads the drive to improve the safety of medicines and medical devices. Her aim is to improve how patients are listened to by the healthcare system, the government, and the NHS to place them at the heart of decision making. She supports the NHS and government to better understand how to promote patient safety by putting patients first, as well as the importance of listening to patients’ views. See:

Patient Safety Learning: a charity and independent voice for improving patient safety. It harnesses the knowledge, enthusiasm and commitment of healthcare organisations, professionals and patients for system-wide change and the reduction of harm. For more see: PSL publish lots of relevant information on the Hub, its award-winning platform for sharing learning for patient safety. 

Which?: the UK’s consumer champion. It is not for profit and all for protecting consumers, as well as its general consumer work, it also covers health and personal care, so can be a useful source of information:


Industry regulators set the rules that private providers must follow and, where necessary, make sure they are followed (know as enforcement). The main regulators for private healthcare are:

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA): helps people, businesses and the UK economy by promoting competitive markets and tackling unfair behaviour. It has staff in London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff, Manchester and Darlington. It introduced new rules in 2014 which placed a responsibility on the private sector to provide measures on benefits, incentive schemes and better information for patients. Find out more about the CMA at:

The Care Quality Commission (CQC): is the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England. It makes sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and it encourages care services to improve. It also monitors, inspects and regulates services and publishes what it finds. Where it finds poor care, it uses its powers to take action. See:

The General Medical Council (GMC): helps to protect patients and improve medical education and practice in the UK by setting standards for students and doctors. It supports them in achieving and exceeding those standards and acts when they are not met. You can also use its website to find out more about any consultants you are considering using. Learn more at:

Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS): regulates independent healthcare services in Scotland. It took over these responsibilities from the Care Commission on 1st April 2011 (and began to regulate independent clinics in Scotland from April 2016). HIS is currently responsible for regulating independent hospitals, voluntary hospices, private psychiatric hospitals and independent clinics.

Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW): is the independent inspectorate and regulator of all health care in Wales. HIW’s purpose is to provide independent and objective assurance on the quality, safety and effectiveness of healthcare services making recommendations to healthcare organisations to promote improvements. It regulates independent healthcare providers against a range of standards, policies, guidance and regulations to highlight areas requiring improvement.

The Professional Standards Authority: oversees 10 health and care regulators which ‘register’ health and care professionals working in occupations, such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists and paramedics. You can search for a health and care professional on their registers by visiting its website.

The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA): is an independent body responsible for monitoring and inspecting the availability and quality of health and social care services in Northern Ireland, and encouraging improvements in the quality of those services. It grades the hospitals and clinics it inspects with one of four ratings. Among its responsibilities, the RQIA is regulates (which includes registration and inspection) establishments and agencies delivering health and social care services including independent clinics and independent hospitals.

Private Medical Insurers

Most people using private healthcare pay for it using private medical insurance (PMI). Find out more about paying for treatment with PMI in our guide. The main UK providers are below:


Axa Health



WPA: UK health insurance and cash plans

There are many other companies who also provide private health insurance. We recommend that you shop around to make sure you get the best insurance plan for you.

The Association of Medical Insurers and Intermediaries (amii): is the voice of intermediaries and insurer members with more than 120 Intermediary and Insurer members. It provides advice on private medical insurance, health cash plans, group risk and protection products and general health and wellbeing matters; including occupational health services and employee assistance programmes. In addition, it promotes and maintain high standards of professional and ethical conduct among its members.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI): is the voice of the UK’s world-leading insurance and long-term savings industry. Its members manage investments of £1.6 trillion, pay over £17.2 billion in taxes to the Government and support communities across the UK by enabling trade, risk-taking, investment and innovation. The ABI represents over 200 member companies, including most household names and specialist providers, giving peace of mind to customers across the UK.

Royal Colleges and Medical Professional Associations

There are many relevant professional bodies (organisations who act on behalf of their members) in the medical sector. You can find out more about how they work and what they do by visiting their websites:

Association of Paediatric Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (APGBI): promotes high standards in the specialty through education and research and advises other professional bodies on anaesthesia for children. Its members are drawn from every type of hospital in the UK and Ireland, Europe and from further overseas. They are active in all aspects of work in paediatric anaesthesia including acute and chronic pain and paediatric intensive care.

Association of Upper Gastrointestinal Surgery of Great Britain and Ireland (AUGIS): promotes the establishment of high-quality training programmes throughout the UK as a fundamental component of its activities. It works towards improving the delivery, results and outcome of conditions of the oesophagus, stomach, duodenum, pancreas, liver and biliary tract requiring surgical treatment. As a charity, AUGIS is regulated by the Charity Commission.

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS): is the only organisation solely dedicated to safety and education in aesthetic surgery, and which represents the vast majority of NHS-trained Consultant Plastic Surgeons in private practice.

The British Association of Spine Surgeons (BASS): actively promotes the study of spinal disorders with particular attention to the surgical treatment of spinal disease and disorders. BASS provides a wealth of information for patients, along with a listing of our members.

The British Association of Urological Surgeons (BAUS): is a membership-based organisation, established in 1945, for qualified medical practitioners in the field of urological surgery.

The British Cardiovascular Intervention Society (BCIS): was created in 1988 to promote education, training and research in cardiovascular intervention and to develop and uphold clinical and professional standards. BCIS provides a large array of educational material from a variety of sources, presentations, audiocasts and webcasts from previous conferences including both AHP and ACI. Clinical cases, publication reviews and news.

The British Medical Association (BMA): represents, supports and negotiates on behalf of all UK doctors and medical students. It is member-run and led, fighting for the best terms and conditions as well as lobbying and campaigning on the issues impacting the medical profession.

The British Orthopaedic Association (BOA): is the Surgical Specialty Association for Trauma and Orthopaedics in the UK. It provides national leadership, a unifying focus, and charitable endeavour by: Caring for Patients; Supporting Surgeons; and Transforming Lives. As a charity it cares for patients by raising funds for, and promoting, research into musculoskeletal disorders. It also operates a benevolent fund to support its members in time of need.

The Association of British Neurologists (ABN): works to improve the health and well-being of people with neurological disorders by advancing the knowledge and practice of neurology in the British Isles.

ENT UK: is the professional membership body representing ear, nose and throat surgery and head, neck and thyroid surgery in the UK. It supports members at every stage of their careers – a total of more than 2,300 ENT healthcare professionals and medical practitioners. It is the leading voice of the specialty and a valuable source of medical information for patients as well as practitioners. ENT UK proudly supports research, provides education for specialists and champions high standards in training. In all of its professional activities it seeks to improve the care available to patients suffering from conditions of the ear, nose, throat, head and neck.

The Federation of Independent Practitioner Organisations (FIPO): is a medical organisation representing the majority of the medical professional's organisations in Britain that have private practice committees. FIPO provides an overarching body for the many specialist and other medical committees acting on behalf of the profession in the independent sector. FIPO provides guidance, policies and co-ordination to these medical organisations. FIPO seeks to work constructively with all independent hospital providers and the private medical insurance industry and hopefully together to advance the cause of independent healthcare.

Federation of Surgical Specialty Associations (FSSA): is the corporate body of the Surgical Specialty Associations, through which it represents and coordinates the views, aims and policies of surgeons from across the United Kingdom and Ireland. It works with all relevant authorities to advance the profession of surgery for the benefit of patients. The FSSA comprises the Presidents of the ten Surgical Specialty Associations recognised by the GMC.

The Independent Doctors Federation (IDF): is the leading membership organisation representing independent medical practitioners in the UK for both specialists and general practitioners. It provides advice on all aspects of private medicine including education, regulation, appraisal and revalidation, links to organisations who can provide assistance with clinician’s practices, as well as networking and peer support.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG): works to improve women’s healthcare across the world. It is committed to developing the accessibility and quality of education, training and assessments for doctors wishing to specialise in O&G. It has over 16,000 members worldwide.

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth): is a membership organisation that promotes and supports the ophthalmic profession in the UK and overseas. As the voice of its members, it influences national eye health policy for the benefit of patients and the profession of ophthalmology. It is committed to developing and promoting the highest standards of patient care in ophthalmology and work with organisations in the eye health sector and the healthcare system to influence policy development in the UK.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health: is the membership body for paediatricians in the UK and around the world. Founded in 1996 and now with about 21,000 members in the UK and internationally, it plays a major role in postgraduate medical education, professional standards, research and policy.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP): is patient centred and clinically led, driving improvement in the diagnosis of disease, the care of individual patients and the health of the whole population, both in the UK and around the world. Its 40,000 members work in hospitals and the community across 30 different medical specialties and range from medical students to retired doctors. The RCP is the oldest medical college in England.

The Royal College of Radiologists (RCR): is a charity that works with its members to improve the standard of medical practice across the fields of radiology and oncology. With faculties in two disciplines, the RCR and its members benefit from a fuller understanding of medical practice, across the spectrum of diagnosis and treatment.

The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) of England: provides world-class education, assessment and development to 30,000 surgeons, dental professionals and members of the wider surgical and dental care teams, at all stages of their career. Its vision is to see excellent surgical care for everyone. It does this by setting professional standards, facilitating research and championing the best outcomes for patients.

The original publication date for this page was on 20 February 2023. This page was last updated on 5 September 2023 to fix a website link.

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