Patients lodged 3,000 complaints about their experience of the NHS every week in the past year, figures suggest.
Between 2011 and 2012 there were 162,100 complaints made - just over 3,100 a week - according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).
Almost half of the complaints made regarding services in hospitals and community health services were about hospital doctors and surgeons while more than one in five of the complaints were made about nurses, midwives and health visitors.
There were 54,900 written complaints about GP practices and NHS dental services - a rise of 8% on the previous year.
A third of these were based on the decisions, advice and treatment provided by a care professional, according to the HSCIC figures.
NHS Confederation deputy chief executive David Stout said: "An increase in the number of complaints doesn't necessarily mean that patients are less satisfied with their care. Although it sounds peculiar, a rise in complaints data can actually mean that patients feel more engaged with their local NHS and want to work with it to improve.
"It's also a sign that patients are confident their concerns will be listened to and acted upon.
"We also need to keep these figures in proportion. The NHS sees more than one million patients every 36 hours and performs hundreds of millions of treatments every year, and only a very small proportion of these ever give cause for complaint.
"Nevertheless, in an NHS committed to delivering safe, high-quality services, there must be robust systems in place to learn from occasions where things go wrong, so it is right that NHS organisations are open to hearing from patients about all experiences, good and bad, and make it easy for patients to raise concerns where necessary."