21st January 2015

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Health-Chat with Roy Lilley 

Dr Sarah Woolaston MP Chair Health Select Committee

11th March - King's Fund 5.30.  Details here.

Select Committee
News and Comment from Roy Lilley

The NHS deals with our most intimate moments, is the back-drop to our most precious memories and gives us hope when all hope has gone. It is a one hundred percent people service.


People like you who have decided to make a career in the vocation of healthcare, who train and study to look after people like us. It is 'our NHS'. Paid for by you, run by people like us, to look after people just like you and me.


For most of the time it works. People understand its foibles and overlook the odd falter. Common-sense tells you, in the best of well-run organisations things will go wrong; it is the measure of the organisation how well and quickly things are put right.


Dealing with complaints. Easy, 6 steps; listen, sympathise, don't justify, make notes, agree a course of action and follow through.


How difficult is that to teach the patient facing front-line of healthcare? Empower and resource them to sort stuff out, there and then. Do it and half your problems will disappear.


Try and complain... don't bother. You'll go from the ward to the board through treacle, trap-doors and torture chambers and if that doesn't work you'll be parked in the frozen wasteland of the Ombudsman's back garden.


Local resolution is the DH aim. That means a letter, something like this:


Dear (insert name)


Thank you for writing. I am so sorry to hear that during your recent (visit/stay/contact) we didn't provide you with our normal high standards of (insert cleanliness/food/parking/personal greeting/efficiency/waiting).


I have drawn your concerns to our (Estates/catering/cleaning/training manager).


We value all the feedback from (residents carers/friends/patients/service users/stakeholders) and I would like to thank you personally for taking the time and trouble to contact us and assure you we will learn from this experience.


Yours sincerely

(Insert name of CEO)


Don't bother complaining - put a picture of your problem on Twitter. That will bring the roof in.


God forbid anyone working in the NHS should want to raise concerns or complain. Expect to be ostracised, penalised, investigated, sent home and get the sack. No matter how hard you blow the whistle, the management bugle is louder. I wrote about it in the Guardian last year.


Complaints and whistle-blowing are infested with fear of lawyers, regulators, adverse publicity and political pressures. All of which saps the confidence, goodwill and courage of people like you looking after people like me, who want to do the right thing by us.


The Health Select Committee have published a report on complaints and whistle-blowing. The tone is set by this little gem; 'The Committee welcomes the progress made since our last report...' Sarah, yer 'aving a larf! The Francis WB report is being delayed because it is inundated with 18,000 whistle-blowers. What progress?


Local complaints processes, once run by PCTs who knew the patch, the players and had a feel for what's what, have been shifted to a call-centre arrangement run in the name of the Carbuncle, on a national basis.


The HSC don't like it any more than I do. I say dump it now. They HSC say; "We recommend that this is rectified". 


Later they say; "...We recommend that the complaints system be simplified and streamlined by establishing a single 'branded' complaints gateway across all NHS providers". Isn't it the 'single-branded-gateway' that's caused all the problems!


But wait; Para 52; "The Committee is concerned about the effects of centralising complaint handling in primary care by NHS England".   Do they know what they mean?  Gimmestrength...


The HSC's bright idea is to make it even worse by lumping healthcare and social care complaints together. The CQC (them again), get a mention.   They don't 'do' complaints. Apparently they exercise 'soft-power'. Right!


First question, what is the key to unlock some of this? I think; complaints handled locally, data and trends analysed nationally.


The commissioners: They must be sure they are getting what they paid for, it worked and they want it again AND did anyone complain, what about and has it been fixed. If not withhold payment.


National collation of complaints and data analysis? Of course. Set up 'NHS-Listens' as an off-shoot of the HSCIC.


Second question; what exactly is the point of a Select Committee?  


If you want to know; 'what is the point of a select committee' come and join me in conversation with Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, chair of the Health Select Committee.

 Kings Fund 11th March - details here. 


  Contact Roy - please use this e-address


Know something I don't - email me in confidence.

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if you know different,
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>>  Has anyone seen Inspector Field - has he been put out to pasture?
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>>  I'm hearing nothing about Tory health policy for the election?  Do they have one or will they do what they did last time; make it up afterwards!