NHS complaints system review launched
An MP who claimed her husband died “like a battery hen” in a hospital bed is to lead a review of the NHS complaints system.Ann Clwyd was appointed by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to examine how issues raised by patients and their families are listened to and acted upon.
She told MPs of the multiple anonymous examples which had been sent to her of poor care and treatment in the NHS since she spoke out about her husband’s care.
The Labour member for Cynon Valley gave a harrowing account last year of the poor treatment received by her husband, Owen Roberts, before he died from hospital-induced pneumonia in October.
He was 73 and suffering from multiple sclerosis, but nurses at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff treated him with “coldness, resentment, indifference and even contempt,” she said.
The review she is conducting, along with Professor Tricia Hart, the chief executive of South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, will examine how the NHS handles concerns raised by staff and how it supports whistleblowers.
It follows the scandal at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, where up to 1,200 patients died needlessly.
Ms Clwyd said: “We all hope that when we go into hospital the care we receive will not give us cause to complain.
“However, when something does go wrong, it must be easy for patients and their carers to speak up, without fear.
“I am determined that the result of this review will be a system that ensures that any complaint or concern that patients or whistleblowers make will be listened to and acted upon.”
She also warned that concern over poor care was “not just something which pertains to England.”
She told the House of Commons: “It’s England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There are similar letters from all those parts of the United Kingdom.”
The review was welcomed by doctors’ leaders.
Professor Norman Williams, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said:
“Patients’ concerns and their experiences must be acted on, not ignored.
“We are pleased that the Government has announced that it will establish a review to look at how trusts currently act when concerns and issues are raised.
“In order to strengthen the system, we believe that the Government should also look at improving the representation of patient safety and dignity issues at Trust board levels.
“Patients must be put back at the centre of care.”
The review team will report back to the Health Secretary in the summer.
Meanwhile the friends and family test, a questionnaire asking patients to give feedback on the care they received, will be mandatory at all hospitals in England from next month.
Among the questions on the form is one that asks patients how likely they are to recommend the hospital to friends and family.
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