The importance of patient involvement in improving complaints systems

December 12, 2017

HWB-patient-involvement-complaints-system-imageHealthwatch Birmingham is calling on local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to include feedback processes into their complaints policies to ensure an effective, high quality service for people making a complaint.

  • Our latest report, Patient Involvement and Complaints Systems, calls for CCGs to routinely collect and use feedback from people to improve their complaints process.
  • 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.

Our report identifies that currently there is no formal requirement for CCGs to collect and use people’s feedback about their complaints process. To fully benefit from patient’s experiences and insight, Healthwatch Birmingham is calling for CCG complaints policies to include a feedback system.
Using feedback to improve the quality of their service may result in improved satisfaction by people complaining through the CCG, fewer complaints escalated to the Ombudsman and support for people to remain engaged with NHS services.
Healthwatch Birmingham collaborated with VoiceAbility, a local complaints advocacy provider, to listen to more people’s experiences of making a complaint about NHS health services through the CCG. Patients can either make a complaint to the service directly, like their GP, or complain through the commissioner of that service – the CCG. We identified a number of issues people are experiencing. These include a lengthy process, poor communication to keep people involved, and a lack of information about which CCG to complain to. In 2014, Healthwatch England’s Suffering in Silence report also highlighted that there is no clear way for people to provide feedback about their experiences of the health and social care complaints systems.
As indicated in our report, we are pleased that the CCGs are exploring how they may routinely collect and use feedback about their complaints systems. Healthwatch Birmingham believes that patient and public involvement is crucial to delivering a high quality service that meet people’s needs and seeks their views. We also now look to NHS England West Midlands and East to assure CCG’s complaints systems to make sure they are high quality.

Download the full report: Patient involvement and complaints systems: The importance of Clinical Commissioning Groups using complainant feedback to improve the quality of their complaints systems.

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