COMMENT ON SOUTHERN HEALTH’S NEW COMPLAINTS POLICY
Recently, we wrote two blog posts with references to Southern Health’s Complaints Process – The Scales of Justice and Kangaroo Court. At the Trust’s request, CRASH submitted a review of Southern Health’s procedures, in particular on inconsistencies with official reports and guidance: download here: Complaints Investigation Report.
We received the draft of Southern Health’s ‘new’ complaints policy with just two working days to comment! There are two draft procedures and a feedback form: available here→ Policy Review Form; SH NCP10; and SH NCP 11v3.
The Trust had completely ignored CRASH’s report.
And all the official reports and guidance therein.
CRASH responded immediately [abbreviated]:
“I will circulate your email and attachments [to the Forum] but it is unreasonable to expect any of us to respond by the end of the month.
“In any event, I can tell from point 10 ‘Supporting References’ that the review is inadequate. Setting aside that you received my comments relatively recently, you have not referenced the Dale Report, the Francis Report or the Shipman Inquiry.
“The [John] Dale Report is specific to Southern Health and its complaints process, authored by the Chair of the NHS Complaints Manager’s Forum, dated 30 January 2017 since when it has been in the Trust’s possession – yet, despite the credibility of the author, you appear not to have used his report in reviewing the policy.
“Within the Dale Report [is] reference also to relevant sections of the Francis Report and, from there, the Shipman Inquiry. You could have taken these into account without my paper.
“I cannot comprehend why the Trust has arranged six 3-hour workshops as part of a website review but none whatsoever on complaint processes. The latter (if compliant with the law of natural justice, relevant guidance and authoritative reports) will have a far greater impact on patient safety than an improved web site.
“I hope you and your colleagues ‘take this on board’: I would recommend that you extend the deadline for feedback until the end of August.
As a result, the Trust extended the deadline by a
generous week. In a phone conversation, they claimed also that staff did not have the opportunity to see and challenge an investigation report, yet the draft states unequivocally:
The response will first need to be returned to service. It will need to be reviewed, and agreed by the investigating officer, commissioning manager and any staff named in the complaint and/or who have contributed to the investigation.
So, at the time of writing, the Trust still has no intention of giving complainants the same opportunity as staff – a fundamental part of a fair process, the law of natural justice and Article 6 of ECHR. It was a specific recommendation too of The [John] Dale Report, which has been in the Trust’s possession for circa. six months.
Despite the deadline, CRASH still urges service users and families to let Southern Health have their comments on the draft policy by email: click here. More pressure (even after the deadline) might make them think twice – though don’t hold your breath!
Here is some (abbreviated) feedback from others:
“Reading through the documents made me remember why I gave up playing golf. It has an extremely “user – unfriendly” set of rules and regulations!” [Carer]
“I am sure [Ombudsman] would want to know why none of the recommendations have been included in a new policy. What a waste of money … it all goes to show what a waste of time this has all been.” [Bereaved family in Dale Report]”
“I will not be giving feedback for reasons that perfecting a useless system is a waste of time – it has little to do with improving quality and satisfying customers.” [Carer]
And here is CRASH’s subsequent response:
Having outlined Southern Health’s continuing failure to listen, respond and improve, it appears that this is being orchestrated by the ‘old guard’ amongst Trust officials, who are innately resistant to change.
CRASH remains hopeful that the new Board of Directors will ‘separate the wheat from the chaff.’
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