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Time for a complaints "revolution", report claims

Time for a complaints "revolution", report claims

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The NHS needs a “revolution” in handling complaints, an independent report claims. 

Commissioned by Prime Minister David Cameron and the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the report demands urgent action over the next year to ensure there is real change. 

Key health organisations, such as the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and Monitor have made concrete commitments to improve complaints culture. 

Mike Richards, the CQC chief inspector of hospitals, is making complaints a central part of CQC inspections. He will also develop standards for the handling of complaints in NHS organisations, ensuring inspectors judgements have been “fully formed” patients comments on care. 

Richards will publish his findings on complaints in hospitals in a year’s time. 

Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt said: “We saw in Mid Staffs how badly things go wrong when patients and families’ complaints aren’t taken seriously.  

“I want to see a complete transformation in hospitals’ approach to complaints, so that they become valued as vital learning tools.  There can be no place for closing ranks or covering backs when patient safety is at stake.” 

'Heart-breaking'

The review, chaired by Rt. Hon Ann Clwyd and Professor Tricia Hart, received 2,500 responses describing poor care, a lack of compassion and dissatisfaction with the way their complaint was handled. 

The review panel also heard from people who had not complained because they felt the process was too confusing or they feared for their future care. 

Ann Clwyd MP said: “When I made public the circumstances of my own husband’s death last year, I was shocked by the deluge of correspondence from people whose experience of hospitals was heart-breaking. It made me determined to do my best to get change in the system.

“We have given patients and their families a voice in this report, and their message to the NHS on complaints is clear. The days of delay, deny, and defend must end, and hospitals must become open, learning organisations. Our proposals put patients firmly into the driving seat at every level as never before, and we now expect to see progress within 12 months’ time.”

The government will publish a full response to the report later this autumn. 

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Comments

There is a significant difference between a serious complaint taken seriously and properly dealt with and the trivial, offensive and spurious complaints that beset the whole of the NHS - Primary as well as Secondary care. It is a well established tenet of Marketing that when something goes wrong the `aggrieved` person talls as many prople as they can about it - but the good never gets passed on. The number of occasions when dealing with complaints I can prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the complainant is at best mistaken and at worst lying outweigh the genuine by ten to one. Saying sorry when there is the possibility that the NHS could have done it better is fine - saying sorry when there is no cause to do so only demoralises and demotivates staff who are trying to do their best and encourages further complaints. Its like promising patients they can have everything they want whenever they want it - it just results in the mess that the NHS is presently in. Politicians take note!

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