Poster's comment: Those unfortunate enough to need recourse to occasional or regular critical care will want to know that despite the lifesaving procedures which most of us have been exceedingly grateful to receive; not everything in the tax-payers garden smells of roses. GW.

Hospital complaints met with ‘wall of silence’

International Medical Press

09 Dec 15

Three quarters of hospital investigations into patient complaints fail to uncover serious failings, according to a report from an NHS ombudsman.

The report, published by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Dame Julie Mellor, provides a wide-ranging review of the quality of NHS investigations into complaints about avoidable harm or death. The findings show that inadequate hospital investigations are leaving distraught patients and families without answers and delaying much-needed service improvements.

Notably, in nearly three quarters of cases where clear failings were found by the ombudsman, hospitals had previously claimed that they hadn't found any failings in their earlier investigations of the same incident.

Furthermore, the report indicates that hospitals failed to class more than two-thirds of avoidable harm cases as serious incidents, meaning that they were not properly investigated, while a fifth of NHS investigations were found to be missing crucial evidence such as medical records, statements and interviews.

In addition, more than a third of the NHS investigations which recorded failings did not find out why they had happened, despite more than 90% of NHS complaint managers claiming that they were confident they could find out answers.

Dame Mellor said: 'Parents and families are being met with a wall of silence from the NHS when they seek answers as to why their loved one died or was harmed.’

She went on: '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.’

'We want the NHS to introduce an accredited training programme for staff carrying out these investigations as well as guidance on how they should be done, so the public can be confident that when someone is needlessly harmed it has been thoroughly investigated and answers provided, so that action can be taken to prevent the same mistakes from happening again,' she added.

Source: Univadis/Pathology/Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's report

2 Replies

  • This is a terribly difficult area for hospitals. With ambulance chasing lawyers and a population which has a compensation culture and government finger pointing and naming and shaming being rife, management bullying a major problem, who would be open? The best way to deal with such problems is for the NHS to have a no blame no fault compensation culture so that people are compensated for injury no matter whether there has been a fault. That has been what they did in New Zealand more than half a century ago and it works.

  • Wise words.

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