Combined NHS data shows complaints against GP and dental practices rose by 8% last year.
During 2011/12 GP and dental practices received 54,900 written complaints from patients – up from 50,700 on the previous year.
Just over 36% of all complaints received (19,300) focused on a practice's 'clinical service' – ie the decisions, advice and treatment provided by a care professional – up 11% on 2010/11.
More than half of complaints (54%) were made against individual GPs, a number which decreased by 3% from the previous year.
More PCTs were unable to provide complete complaints entries for all practices this year – a rise of 36 from 29 PCTs in 2010-11.
HSCIC has suggested this may be due to a practice receiving no complaints in the year, or not notifying their PCT of complaints received.
In total more than 162,100 complaints were made against the NHS during 2011/12 – of which more than 3,000 were written complaints.
The research by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) shows a rise of 8% on the year 2010/11.
Tim Straughan, Chief Executive of the HSCIC, said the mandatory call for Foundation Trusts to submit data about the number of complaints they receive has helper give a "fuller picture" of the volume of complaints made against the NHS.
However, he has called upon greater input from GP and dental practices in future primary care submissions to "ensure this picture can be brought into even sharper focus".