The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has said the process of investigating NHS complaints is “not consistent, reliable or good enough”.

When a complaint is made against an NHS Trust, the Trust should conduct an investigation and provide the ‘complainant’ with a formal response, explaining what has happened and why.

But the Health Ombudsman has recently uncovered shortcomings in the quality of these investigations, with many failing to admit that mistakes have even been made.

Findings of the review

The Ombudsman reviewed 150 complaint investigations where serious or avoidable harm was alleged. It found that:

  • In 40% of cases, the investigation did not even find out what happened
  • In 73% of cases, the Trust found there had been no failings, but a later review by the Ombudsman found there had been failings
  • 70% of serious cases are not being identified as ‘serious’
  • In 41% of cases, an inadequate explanation was given to the patient/their family regarding what went wrong and why

The Ombudsman also raised concerns about the abilities of staff to investigate and learn from mistakes, concluding that:

  • There is no consistent or standard approach to investigations
  • Staff are not adequately trained to carry out investigations nor given dedicated time to do so
  • There are missed opportunities to learn from mistakes

In summary, the Ombudsman said the review raised “doubts about the ability of NHS Trusts to reliably identify when something has gone seriously wrong and why.”

“Without this capability, Trusts will continue to miss opportunities to learn and make service improvements.”

Was your complaint inadequately investigated?

If you feel your NHS complaint was inadequately investigated, you might want to consider pursuing legal action in the form of a medical negligence claim.

To speak to a solicitor about the possibility of a compensation claim, please get in touch with us at Glynns Solicitors.

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