NHS complaints ‘thrown away’
The Health Service Ombudsman, the body with ultimate responsibility for complaints against the NHS, has been accused of failing thousands of patients and bereaved relatives after admitting it fully investigated less than 400 of 16,000 patient complaints made last year. The watchdog’s own records disclose that during the year 2012/13, less than 3% of complaints which came to them were fully investigated.
In the vast majority of cases, those seeking help were told that an investigation would not achieve anything, that there was no case to answer or that they should return to the organisation which they said had failed them to argue their case.
Professor Sir Brian Jarman, emiritus professor of Imperial College London, said:
“It’s an appalling situation. These complaints – which we should treat as ‘gold dust’, because they are the lessons we need to learn to prevent future tragedies – are being virtually ignored and thrown away.”
In response, a spokesman for the Ombudsman said:
“We changed our criteria for investigating complaints last year. We now always begin our consideration of a complaint about potentially avoidable death with the assumption that we will investigate. In fact, if any complaint meets some basic tests, we will usually investigate it. These changes were prompted by feedback from people whose complaints we had not investigated.”