Written by

Peter Rigby - Director of Medical Negligence

Let’s encourage NHS Trusts to give Healthwatch England’s latest findings careful attention, says Patient Claim Line’s Head of Medical Negligence and Serious Injury.

Peter Rigby, a department figurehead within the firm’s Medical Negligence Serious Injury department, is responding to Healthwatch England’s latest figures that show only 12 per cent of NHS trusts have fully complied with the rules around patient grievances.

Peter, who has more than 12 years’ experience representing vulnerable clients, believes public confidence in the health service may be undermined if there isn’t a change in transparency from Trusts.

Peter said:

“Patient Claim Line whole-heartedly support the continual improvement of front-line health services and back any discussions around increased transparency and an improved approach to the patient complaints process.”

Sir Robert Francis QC, who led the public inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal in June 2010 echoes Peter’s thoughts.

In an interview with the Independent, Francis calls for a shakeup of the existing system with more focus placed on the handling of patient complaints.

The leading barrister is also the Chair of Healthwatch England, the independent body that has reviewed 149 hospitals’ handling of complaints.

Under current legislation, hospitals are required to collect and report on the number of complaints they receive, and any action taken.

In addition, Sir Robert’s research found seven in eight hospital trusts do not follow existing rules.

Peter continued:

“I welcome Sir Robert Francis QC and Healthwatch England’s work in highlighting the ongoing deficiencies in the way many NHS trusts deal with patient complaints.

“I understand that this is not always a straightforward process, but I encourage NHS trusts to give these findings careful attention and identify ways of improving and becoming more transparent, fully engaging with the current rules and to actively participate in in discussions around further improvements that can be made.”

In total, Healthwatch England confirms just 12 per cent of NHS Trusts were on target.

Consequently, just 16 per cent published the final complaints report and just 38 per cent communicated the actions taken after a grievance.

Peter concluded:

“I expect that this will lead to increased transparency, improvements in patient understanding and overall experience, improved trust in the NHS and increased learning leading to improvement in patient outcomes in the future.”

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