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Complaints Management in the NHS: National Update

Chris Bostock Head of Complaints Policy The Department of Health spoke at today’s NHS Complaints conference on:

  • what needs to change: an update for providers and commissioners
  • ensuring board accountability for complaints

Chris gave an update on national developments in handling complaints and applying the lessons of the Francis Inquiries.  

In his presentation Chris looked at the work still to be done which included: 

  • the development of a regular and standardised way of surveying people who have made a complaint, 
  • “NHS Complaints Advocacy Services should be re-branded, better resourced and publicised”. “[They] should also be developed to embrace greater independence and support to those who complain (Clwyd-Hart). A review of NHS complaints advocacy services will complete in Spring 2015. 
  • The Government intends to fund local authorities to provide advocacy services, subject to them making information publicly available to a nationally agreed reporting standard about how that funding is being spent.
  • DH will also consider different aspects of Patient Advice and Liaison Services to review the effectiveness of these services within the wider NHS

In his presentation Chris states: 

The aim of the Department of Health is to: 

  • Ensure that all forms of feedback help improve care for patients
  • Ensure that when things do go wrong, the complaints system is clear, fair and open
  • Ensure patients know who they can turn to for independent local support if they want it
  • Ensure that at every level the NHS scrutinises and learns from mistakes to improve care for patients

The Department of Health and NHS England has issued an accessible complaints guide for service users that are dissatisfied with the service they have received from the NHS.

The Care Quality Commission is now routinely examining how well organisations handle complaints and those that fall short will have this reflected in their inspection findings. All CQC inspections will now look into how well providers handle complaints. 

Healthwatch England commissioned Citizens Advice to expand their health and social care section on the Advice guide website to give people up to date information and advice on how to navigate the health and social care complaints system.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, working with Healthwatch England and the Local Government Ombudsman, has published universal expectations for raising concerns and complaints to support improvements in complaint handling. The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman also now publishes data about the volume of initial enquiries her office receives about individual Trusts along with the details of where complaints against those Trusts are upheld.

The KO41A collection will move from annual to quarterly with the first collection period being from 1st April 2015 to 30th June; the first quarter’s information collected July/August 2015; and the KO41B (Primary Care) data will change from April 2016
 
The Royal College of Nursing has recently published guidance on handling feedback from patients to help frontline nurses and health care support workers understand how to deal with feedback, as well as concerns, complaints and compliments. 
 
The Care Quality Commission’s recent Complaints Matter report concluded that the quality of complaints handling was variable, and it raised concerns about the timeliness of responses to complaints.
 
A regular and standardised way of surveying people who have made a complaint in both primary and secondary care is required. The options have been narrowed down and the most viable are currently being worked up in more detail, with the aim of presenting recommendations to Ministers shortly.
 
NHS Complaints Advocacy Services should be re-branded, better resourced and publicised”. “[They] should also be developed to embrace greater independence and support to those who complain (Clwyd-Hart). A review of NHS complaints advocacy services will complete in Spring 2015.
 
The Government intends to fund local authorities to provide advocacy services, subject to them making information publicly available to a nationally agreed reporting standard about how that funding is being spent.
 
DH will also consider different aspects of Patient Advice and Liaison Services to review the effectiveness of these services within the wider NHS

Chris’ full presentation is available for download at the end of this page.

Chris Bostock joined the Civil Service in 1980, initially working in social security local offices before transferring to the Department of Health in 1989.  Since then, Chris has worked in a number of areas including primary care policy, NHS pay, and specialist medical & GP training.  When working in R&D, he was Secretary to the ‘Advisory Group on Consumer Involvement in the NHS R&D Programme’.  For much of the past ten years, Chris has had DH lead policy responsibility for NHS complaints and, variously, Independent Complaints Advocacy Services, Patient Advice and Liaison Services, patient experience, and clinical negligence.  

Events of interest:

 

Root Cause Analysis in Mental Health: 2 Day Intensive Training Course
Wednesday 11 March — Thursday 12 March 
Cavendish Conference Centre, London

Root Cause Analysis: 2 Day Intensive Training Course
Monday 16 March — Tuesday 17 March 
Cavendish Conference Centre, London

Root Cause Analysis: 2 Day Intensive Training Course
Wednesday 22 April — Thursday 23 April 
Hallam Conference Centre, London

 


Download: chris-bostock_936.pdf

11 February 2015

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