Due to the ongoing COVID19 pandemic NHS England and NHS Improvement are supporting a system wide “pause” of the NHS complaints process which would allow all health care providers in all sectors to concentrate their efforts on the front-line duties and responsiveness to COVID19. This means that:
- 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