Review of the NHS Complaints Procedure: Health Inequalities Impact Assessment

The final report of the Health Inequalities Impact Assessment of the changes proposed to the NHS complaints procedure.

4. Key recommendations

The following recommendations are intended to enhance the positive impact for these changes, and reduce any potential negative impacts.

4.1 NHS Boards and service providers should make it clear that all complaints are welcome and will be used to inform continuous improvements to services. They should make information about how to make a complaint or give feedback freely available in public / inpatient areas, and should provide evidence of how they are using the information provided to improve services in the feedback and complaints reporting required by the Patient Rights Act and associated legislation.

4.2 Information about the NHS model Complaints Handling Procedure should be clearly presented in ways that support people’s health literacy needs. Public-facing documents, in particular, should be written in plain English and made available as required in a range of languages and formats.

4.3 Staff involved in responding to complaints should have access to training on how to conduct an early conversation with the person making a complaint, to establish what matters to them and the outcome they would like to see from their complaint. Staff should be supported to understand how they can make a meaningful apology, where appropriate. Staff involved in investigating complaints should, additionally, have access to accessible information training.

4.4 NHS Boards should support staff to recognise where the person making a complaint may need additional support, and to make appropriate links where necessary with organisations providing advice and support, including independent advocacy.

4.5 Children’s rights could be adversely affected if the complaints process is not followed correctly. NHS Boards should provide clear guidance to staff about issues of consent as they relate to children.

4.6 Younger people, in particular, may wish to contact services via social media. NHS Boards should test the use of social media to gather feedback and complaints.

4.7 The changes to the procedure bring opportunities to resolve a significant proportion of prisoner complaints at the early resolution stage. Boards should explore the potential for testing innovative approaches to early resolution in prison settings, building on the work already underway in some Board areas.


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