Improving the complaints process for patients

February 7, 2018

A recent Westminster Backbench debate on NHS Negligence Cases highlighted a key point about the improvement of complaints processes for patients.
The debate (30th January) identified key Government directives and partnerships to drive improvement in the complaints process.
The Minister of State acknowledged the role of Healthwatch and outlined the following:

  • “The Department of Health has established the complaints improvement board to take forward a series of projects to improve the complaints process.
  • “As part of that process, the complaints improvement partnership was established by the Department and system partners, including NHS England, NHS Improvement, the Care Quality Commission, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, and NHS Resolution. That partnership is currently examining options for delivering a more effective complaints management system, and better use of all forms of feedback to improve NHS services.
  • “The complaints improvement partnership also engages with non-executive directors to explore options for them to have responsibility for monitoring the progress of complaints and serious incidents within trusts, and with Healthwatch England, to empower local healthwatch organisations.”
The full debate record can be found here. 

Healthwatch Birmingham’s Complaints Report

Our report, Patient Involvement and Complaints Systems, picked up on this issue with local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) who are now working to make changes.  We found that:

  • People’s experiences of complaining through the CCG identify such issues as the length of process, poor communication and unclear information.
  • By improving the quality of the complaints service, there are real opportunities to improve people’s satisfaction, reduce the number of complaints being escalated and support people to remain engaged, and re-engage, with NHS services.

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