A committee of MPs have said that the complaints system for the NHS in England is failing patients. They suggest that it needs to be completely overhauled to ensure that it provides justice for those with a genuine complaint.
The health select committee went on to criticize the heath ombudsman’s role as being too narrow and that they had not investigated enough complaints. However the ombudsman’s office confirmed that they are able to investigate any case that merits it.
The cross party group suggested that the culture needs to be much more open when dealing with complaints.
The Department of Health (DH) has confirmed that the NHS will become more accountable under their new plans that were issued in response to the independent NHS Future Forum.
Until 2009 any complaints that were not settled locally were reviewed by the Healthcare Commission before being sent to the ombudsman. However, the Healthcare Commission was scrapped to speed up the process and some critics believe this has allowed many complaints to be overlooked.
Records for 2009-2010 show that only 3% of the 15,000 complaints were officially investigated by the ombudsman, although more were looked at unofficially. For a complaint to be investigated or prompt an intervention, it have the prospect of a worthwhile outcome and the patient must have suffered injustice or hardship caused by poor service or maladministration.
The committee also wants any healthcare provider to openly publish any complaints they receive and report on their progress.