Poor handling of NHS patient complaints

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

The NHS Ombudsman has found that only 1 in 4 internal hospital investigations into avoidable injury or death manage to address serious failings in care.

Dame Julie Mellor, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, has demanded immediate action by hospitals to address the void in transparency by those conducting the internal investigations. It has left those that submit complaints with the feeling that their concerns and those of their loved ones are being overlooked. She conducted a review of these internal hospital investigations and found that in 73% of the cases where she identified evidence of failings the Trusts concerned had found no fault.

Dame Julie Mellor said of her investigations: -“Our review found that NHS investigations into complaints about avoidable death and harm are simply not good enough. They are not consistent, reliable or transparent, which means that too many people are being forced to bring their complaint to us to get it resolved.”

Complaints need to be handled correctly as part of a successful organisation. If, as is suggested, investigations are woefully inadequate this is serving as a hindrance to growth. There is a silver lining in the form of the new independent patient safety investigation service which it is hoped will help the NHS improve its handling of patient complaints.

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