Improvements to hospital complaints systems put forward in Essex

A&E at Colchester General Hospital. Picture: Lucy Taylor

A&E at Colchester General Hospital. Picture: Lucy Taylor

A report from County Hall has recommended ways in which Essex hospitals improve the way they handle complaints.

Essex County Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) drew up the report after speaking to staff within the NHS, all five hospital trusts in the county and patient groups.

Councillors found good practice in a number of areas but drew up 15 recommendations for improvement based on five key areas.

• Patient Engagement – all hospitals should have a patient-led Patient Representative Group.

• Making it easier to complain and give feedback – Patients Advice and Liaison Service be better publicised and accessible.

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• Learning from complaints and sharing knowledge – complaints managers and patient group representatives should meet regularly.

• Staff training – complaints handling training should be rolled out to all staff with mandatory refreshers.

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• Improving the information received by, and the effectiveness of, HOSC – including a closer working relationship with Healthwatch.

Councillor Andy Wood, lead of the complaints and handling task and finish group, said: “It is so important it is easy for patients to be able to lodge a complaint or give feedback. Both should be seen as a positive for a trust as they can highlight poor practice within a hospital and prompt improvements.”

Each hospital now has a chance to respond before a review in six months’ time.

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