Health Select Committee publishes Complaints and Raising Concerns Report

On Wednesday 21 January 2015 the Health Select Committee, of which Valerie is a member, published their report into Complaints and Raising Concerns.

Valerie said:

“The Committee heard that the current system for complaints handling remains variable and is overly complex. Too many complaints are mishandled with people encountering poor communication or at worst, a defensive and complicated system which results in a complete breakdown in trust and a failure to improve patient safety. We recommended a single gateway for raising complaints and concerns with clearer, adequately resourced arrangements for advocacy and support.”

“The Committee found that the NHS is not a single organisation, but a system of organisations which have a number of competing interests and claims. The responsibility for ensuring a properly responsive complaints system is distributed widely across the health service among many organisations which makes it more confusing. To name them, they are: Trust Boards and management, The Care Quality Commission, Commissioners, Healthwatch England, Local Healthwatch, The Health Service Ombudsman, The Local Government Ombudsman, and Professional regulators such as the GMC and the NMC.”

“Witnesses told the Committee that good process, embedded in a supportive culture, was needed. This system should be open to issues being raised including before a formal complaint is necessary. There needs to be a real-time capture of patient feedback data. An establishment of a dialogue as soon as possible with any complaint and talking to the patients afterwards to assess if all the complaints had been addressed.”

“The Committee recommended that Trusts be required to publish at least quarterly, in anonymised summary form, details of complaints made against the Trust, how the complaints have been handled and what the Trust has learnt from them.”

“Advocacy services can play a significant role in helping people to raise complaints and concerns about care and related issues. The problem that has been expressed to us is that those services are fragmented and difficult to find. We recommend that there should be clear commissioning and consistent branding of PALS and NHS Advocacy services to make them as visible and effective as possible to any patient seeking assistance through the complaints process. Current arrangements are variable and too often unsatisfactory.”

“The Committee welcomes the willingness of the GMC to review its practices and investigations to ensure that they adequately support registrants who genuinely raise patient safety concerns in the public interest, and protect them from retaliatory action. The consequences for staff where they have sought protection as a whistleblowers and then have lost their job and been unable to find another is unacceptable. Concerns raised by NHS staff needs to be addressed appropriately and a failure to has a direct effect on patient safety. The Report recommends that a programme to identify whistleblowers who have been treated unfairly be set up to provide them with an apology and practical redress.”

The Health Select Committees report into Complaints and Raising Concern is available to read here: