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NHS complaints: A work in progress


The Health Select Committee has published its Report on “Complaints and Raising Concerns”. This follows on from a number of reports by different bodies in recent years looking at how the current system could be improved.

The Report makes a number of findings which reflect our experience. The Committee note many people who complain about the NHS are not seeking financial compensation but an acknowledgement and understanding of their experience and reassurance any failings will be put right. The Committee emphasises that an effective complaints system should be open to complaints and deliver timely apologies and explanations with the focus being on a determination to learn from mistakes and improve patient safety. This reflects the views of previous reports in this area and yet, despite past recommendations aimed at achieving this, the Committee found changes were not being seen in practice.

The recommendations in this Report therefore are aimed at achieving real change and improvement. Key to this is the recommendation that Hospital Trusts be required to publish quarterly details of complaints made against them in anonymised form. That data should not simply record the number of complaints but detail a summary of the complaint, how it has been handled and what has been learnt. This is to ensure monitoring and evaluation of complaints does not become a box-ticking exercise but is a thought-out process that contributes to change.

We welcome the continued drive towards improving patient safety through effective complaints systems. However, we are concerned that this drive is not yet producing real change whilst complaints against the NHS continue to rise. We hope implementation of the recommendations in this report will go some way to addressing that.

Further Information

If you are concerned about medical care or treatment you have received and would like advice on how to raise this with your local doctor or hospital, please do not hesitate to contact our medical negligence team on 0117 325 2929 or complete our online enquiry form.

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