Updated 29th June 2020
On 26 March 2020, NHS England advised NHS organisations that due to need to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, they could choose to pause the complaints process.
NHS organisations have now been told that, as long as circumstances do not change significantly, the pause to the NHS complaints process will not be extended into July 2020.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) will also start accepting new health complaints and progressing existing ones from 1 July.
NHS England is discussing with the PHSO and the Department of Health and Social Care the threshold should the NHS need to consider another pause in the event of a second wave either locally or nationally of COVID-19.
Until the 1st July
- all providers should ensure that patients and the public are still able to raise concerns or make a complaint, but that the expectation of an investigation and response in the near future is managed.
- all providers would continue to acknowledge complaints, log them on their respective systems, triage them for any immediate issues of patient safety, practitioner performance or safeguarding and take immediate action where necessary. All complaints would then remain open until further notice, unless an informal resolution could be achieved, or the complainant chooses to withdraw their complaint.
- in secondary care where PALS offices still operate, they could still provide support by email and telephone and this should be encouraged for patients and the public to engage with the organisation.
- CCGs should ensure that they continue to have open channels of communication with patients and the public.
- we would advise the system that consideration should be given to complainants who, at the time of the “pause”, have already waited excessively long for their response (specifically those who have waited six months or more) these should be reviewed to ascertain if and how these can be resolved to the complainant’s satisfaction.
- The initial “pause” period is recommended to be for three months with immediate effect. All health care providers can opt to operate as usual regarding the management of complaints if they wish to do so and this “pause” is not being enforced.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has issued a statement on the home page of their website Click Here
Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman re-open for complaints
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) have fully re-opened their complaints services as of Monday 29 June. This includes re-opening to new cases, and restarting work on existing cases with input from councils and care providers.
You can find more on how to make a complaint with the LGSCO on their website: https://www.lgo.org.uk/make-a-complaint