Intended for healthcare professionals

Views And Reviews Acute Perspective

David Oliver: Handling complaints with realism and fairness to staff

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: (Published 15 January 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m101
  1. David Oliver, consultant in geriatrics and acute general medicine
  1. Berkshire
  1. davidoliver372{at}
    Follow David on Twitter: @mancunianmedic

From the launch of Channel 4 television in 1982, a programme called Right to Reply was a regular feature: viewers phoned, wrote, or used video booths to praise or complain about programmes. Bosses and programme makers appeared too, to put their side of the story.

Continuing this tradition, Channel 4 has launched a “Complaints Welcome” campaign encouraging viewers to complain, but with adverts openly posting some of the more abusive or dubious comments received.1 Might this offer a shining example to the NHS?

Watching television isn’t as personal or fraught as using health services when you’re scared and ill. I’m not proposing gentle ridicule of complainants, as employed in Channel 4’s campaign. But we may have something to learn from it in encouraging feedback and in the open, robust response to it.

Endless reports show …

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