Hospital complaints poorly investigated

HOSPITALS in England are failing to conduct proper investigations into complaints about avoidable harm and death according to quality review published by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

The report found that nearly three quarters (73 per cent) of hospital investigations into complaints about avoidable harm and death claimed there were no failings in the care given, despite PHSO investigations of the same incidents uncovering "serious failings".

The report also found that hospitals failed to class more than two-thirds (20 of 28) of avoidable harm cases as serious incidents and thus conduct proper investigations, and just under a fifth (19 per cent) of NHS investigations were missing crucial evidence such as medical records, statements and interviews. Only half (52 per cent) of the investigations about avoidable harm and death carried out by the NHS were conducted by a clinician who was independent of the events complained about and 36 per cent of investigations that recorded failings did not adequately determine why they had happened.

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Julie Mellor said: "Our review found that NHS investigations into complaints about avoidable death and harm are simply not good enough. They are not consistent, reliable or transparent, which means that too many people are being forced to bring their complaint to us to get it resolved.

 "We want the NHS to introduce an accredited training programme for staff carrying out these investigations as well as guidance on how they should be done, so the public can be confident that when someone is needlessly harmed it has been thoroughly investigated and answers provided, so that action can be taken to prevent the same mistakes from happening again."

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