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As medical negligence solicitors we see more than our fair share of poor treatment. Not all bad treatment is negligent though. This means that the patients on the receiving end of it can’t claim compensation; their only option is to make a complaint and hope it doesn’t happen again, to someone else.

It’s been recognised that the NHS Complaints Process could be improved and the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) is developing an NHS Complaints Standards Framework to do just that.

The NHS Complaints Procedure

As you’d expect, the NHS have a formal procedure to follow if you’d like to complain about the treatment you’ve received.

It’s an important, and often overlooked part of the NHS. Because when humans are involved, mistakes are sadly inevitable. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do everything in our power to minimise them; and put them right after they have happened.

Unfortunately, we hear all too often from people who have been let down; not once, but twice. Firstly, by a healthcare system which has failed them; and secondly by a complaints process which hasn’t listened or responded effectively.

The NHS Complaints Standards Framework

Having recognised issues with the existing complaints process, the PHSO are working to improve complaint handling, by creating a Complaints Standards Framework for the NHS. In their words: “the first step to addressing these issues”.

Issues with the current NHS Complaints Process

As mentioned, we see plenty of people who feel like the current NHS Complaints Process has let them down. The PHSO have identified the following reasons as the cause of some of the failings:

  • No single set of guidelines for handling complaints
  • Inconsistent and unavailable training and support for staff
  • Differing approaches from managers and leaders

These points, they say, can lead to complaints being “feared and ignored, rather than embraced as a valuable source of learning”.

How is the Complaints Standards Framework being created?

The PHSO asked the NHS, government departments, members of the public and advocacy organisations what an ideal set of complaints standards would look like.

This led to them identifying the following principles:

  • Promote leaning and improvement
  • Encourage active seeking and sharing of feedback
  • Be thorough and fair
  • Be balanced and accountable

These have been used to start creating a Complaints Standards Framework for the NHS.

What is the aim of the Complaints Standards Framework?

The PHSO recognise that handling complaints well is important for service users and providers. It instils confidence in the people using the service and allows those providing it to improve what is on offer.

The Framework will set out a shared vision for complaint handling and how complaints can help to improve the services offered by the NHS. The PHSO hope that by achieving what the public expect to happen after making a complaintcomplaints will be resolved earlier and effectively; this will save time and money, improve everyone’s experience and promote learning and improvement.

Who is the Complaints Standards Framework for?

The NHS Complaints Standards Framework is for:

  • All staff delivering NHS services (from clinical staff to non-clinical senior leaders)
  • People who provide feedback or make a complaint
  • Staff who receive complaints

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman want to hear from you

Now the PHSO want to hear from you. There is a short survey to complete on the PHSO website, which will help them formulate the NHS Complaint Standards Framework. It’s your opportunity to be part of positive change, that will help to improve the NHS.

If you’ve had an unsatisfactory response using the NHS Complaints Process

Although it’s not always possible to claim compensation for bad treatment; because bad treatment isn’t always negligent. If you’ve suffered a significant injury and suspect that it might have been caused by negligent treatment, you should contact us. Our team of experienced solicitors will consider your complaint, and advise for free if we can help you make a claim on a no win no fee basis.

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