All public services must learn lessons from Mid Staffs on handling complaints, MPs sayBMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g2776 (Published 15 April 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2776
All rapid responses
The House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee reports that there is a “toxic cocktail” in the NHS and other public services of reluctance by citizens to complain and defensive responses from services (1).
The Select Committee calls for a change in attitudes towards complaints at all levels and for improvements in complaints handling. Whilst these changes should increase learning in the longer term, doctors and all those involved in the NHS need to have better access to the feedback from patients that is currently available.
Reports from successive statutory public involvement services provide insights into patient experience of NHS services. Community Health Council (1974-2003) paper archives can be identified by searching Access to Archives http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/a2a/ . Later electronic archives have proved more transient. Web-based archives for the Patient and Public Information Forums (2003-2008) were removed in January 2011, as they no longer met the host’s holdings criteria (2). The British Library archived Local Involvement Network (2008-2013) websites in March 2013 http://www.webarchive.org.uk/ukwa/collection/128712715/page/1. Local Healthwatch (2013 onwards) websites are linked to the main Healthwatch England website http://www.healthwatch.co.uk.
Robert Francis criticised the Patient and Public Involvement Forum at Mid Staffs for failing to raise an alarm, but indicated that analysis of the Forum’s observations would have indicated wider problems (3).
In the absence of data from complaints, greater use could be made of the reports by statutory public involvement institutions. To do this, however, the institutions’ archives need to be more readily accessible and more consistently maintained.
1) House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee. More complaints please! 12th report of session 2013-14. London: The Stationery Office; 2014. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmpubadm/229/...
2) Personal correspondence with host; February 2011.
3) Francis R. Report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust public inquiry; volume one. London: The Stationery Office; 2013. http://www.midstaffspublicinquiry.com/sites/default/files/report/Volume%...
Competing interests: No competing interests