Home / Insights / Blog / NHS complaints process ‘needs review’

NHS complaints process ‘needs review’

NHS complaints process ‘needs review’

The handling of NHS patient complaints, which amount to a million a year – and rising – needs an urgent review, a MPs' report has suggested.

The document, from the cross-party Commons Health Committee, said the current practices are not effective and extra effort is needed to promote a "more open culture" when dealing with complaints and errors.

It called for the Government to act right away, adding that there is adequate data to hold a review "without delay".

It proposes that ministers look at whether two programmes should be established; one for "customer care" complaints, and another for dealing with more serious clinical issues.

The increasing number of complaints has been attributed to a combination of poorer NHS care, rising healthcare demands and a growing awareness of complaint procedures, experts claim.

Action against Medical Accidents chief executive, Peter Walsh, said: "This report could not be more timely and underlines the need to rethink current proposed health and legal reforms.

"Like us, the Committee welcomes the introduction of a 'contractual' duty of candour, as announced by the Government recently, but sees that this must be augmented by making such a duty a condition for licensing by the Care Quality Commission.

"We urge the Government to take this step without delay."

Malcolm Underhill, Partner and Clinical Negligence specialist at IBB solicitors, agrees with the report from the cross-party Commons Health Committee.

He said: "Many clients are suspicious of any internal investigation and frequently have little faith in the outcome. The complaints procedure should be more transparent. Only when hospitals are prepared to go on the record and admit errors will confidence be restored in the complaints system.

"It is noteworthy that patients frequently only want an apology and a guarantee that mistakes will not be repeated. Litigation is not on their mind at the outset, but becomes important when hospitals appear to be less than candid about their staff's conduct. Patients feel that litigation is the only way that hospitals will admit fault. This must change."

IBB Solicitors has built a reputation for quality of service in pursuing compensation in cases involving accident, illness or death. If you would like advice on personal injury issues, you can contact a member of IBB's Personal Injury team, call us on 08456 381 381 or email enquiries@ibblaw.co.uk.