In the run-up to a revamp of the bodies that check standards in the NHS, hospitals are being urged to successfully resolve complaints before they escalate.
From next April, the Healthcare Commission will cease to exist. This means it can no longer act as the independent reviewer of complaints that have not been resolved to the patient’s satisfaction by their local hospital trust.
The Health and Social Care Act 2008 will replace the Healthcare Commission, the Commission for Social Care Inspection and the Mental Health Act Commission with a single, integrated regulator for health and adult social care – the Care Quality Commission.
Hospital have been told to settle complaints at a local level, only using the health ombudsman as the “second stage” for independent review.
At the moment in England, pilot studies are being carried out to determine how complaints can be resolved more successfully locally, including possibly getting another NHS trust to review complaints or peer review within the same organisation.
The advice comes as a study reports that people face too many obstacles when trying to complain about NHS or social care.
Karen Taylor, from the National Audit Office (NAO), which compiled the study, said: “The main reason people don’t complain, whether in NHS or social care, is that they don’t think anything will be done as a result.”
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