Thursday, 3 February 2011

Health Select Committee: NHS Complaints and Litigation

The first session of Health Select Committee went well according to Ms Dee Speers who gave evidence to it. (open this page and then click on the photo to watch the video):"it seems we can now officially be called “the Commission for Joined Up thinking”.
Doctors4Justice supplied a report to the Committee on Suicide Prevention. During Labour government even statistics on suicides became hidden from doctors. What a pathetic cover up during religious government which did not put patients first and neither did the regulatory bodies!

I detected a bit of nervousness in one Committee administrator, who thought, that we could turn up with some powder and throw it about with her memories of Fathers4Justice still very much alive in Parliament. I promised there would be no such incidents.

There are bereaved relatives who came to hear the evidence before the Health Select Committee but could not speak themselves. One of them is Miguel Cubells of NHS Reform Group, who wrote to me: the session went well in my opinion. The members of the public who gave evidence put an excellent case forward in regard to the issues we have all faced in regard to the NHS.

This session is was very important in many ways. Firstly, for all of us who have been fighting through the system of complaints and not getting satisfaction but learning a lot more about law than we ever thought we would, this was a major milestone with hope that with the new government we shall see significant changes. Secondly, we hope that people would allow reality to seep into their minds and allow changes to happen.
The NHS budget for litigation in 2009 was about £780 million. It comes from NHS budget for patient care and everything else. Litigation does affect patient care in a number of ways. There is something to be learned from it but also it is painful as the money goes out.

How complaints are handled can determine how it progresses to litigation and its high costs. Not only are the procedures wrong but people handling complaints are many times immature, avoidant, hostile, aggressive, secretive, stacking complaints instead of dealing responsibly with them at once.

NHS Whistleblowers have been persecuted instead of praised and valued. A person who would be a heroine in one country is guilty of serious professional misconduct in another (UK). Even poor countries have heroes. In UK some whistleblowers doctors had to sleep on park benches after the system descended on them with all its power.


Dee said...

I gave evidence to the Health Select Committee and feel strongly that there must be a fully independent complaints system which allows people a voice. The time allocated at the Health select Committee was not enough to hear the full concerns on NHS complaints and how the system is failing us.
If Government are serious about wanting to address this then "make ICAS fully funded by Trusts:
" As key to effectiveness especially in serious disputes re: Pals/ICAS question is independence of funding. I feel this currently makes ICAS a better option in heavier circumstances than Pals.

The ideal would be to fund an advocacy service like ICAS via trusts being obliged to pay into a pool. Better still, the amount they pay the pool should be proportional to the percentage of complaints that are escalated from their particular Trust (ie escalated beyond local resolution).

This would provide an incentive to resolve the complaint at Local Resolution rather than simply face it down and rely on the PHSO to rule “no worthwhile outcome” with little effort on the Trusts part (which they know will happen in 98% of cases).
PHSO in front of Public Administration Select Committee next Wed 9th Feb for scrutiny of PHSO process.

Anonymous said...

Fairness and transparency appear only in papers but in reality Health Professionals note that the NHS/DH influence Regulatory bodies and refer staff who dare to speak up for their patients. The Regulatory bodies are used as a threat to silence them and to deter others from raising concerns.

I am not sure if there will be a real independent body to overlook the complaint system.