Abstracts: April 1st, 2009

A single set of arrangements for dealing with complaints across NHS and adult social care starts operating on 1 April 2009. It gives organisations the flexibility they need to deal with complaints effectively. It will also encourage a culture that seeks and then uses people’s experiences to improve care. The current complaints systems are being reformed because many problems took too long to resolve, the processes were bureaucratic and services didn’t try to systematically learn from mistakes.

This guide from the Department of Health is designed to help health and social care staff improve the way they respond to people who are unhappy about the service they have received. It has been developed to help complaints professionals who are working with colleagues to make their organisations better at listening, responding and learning from people’s experiences. It is also intended for anyone working in health and social care organizations who are involved in receiving feedback and resolving concerns and complaints from patients and service users.

The new arrangements should overcome past problems where people failed to get a satisfactory response to their complaints and many people using adult social care services saw ‘no point’ in making a complaint.

The Guide stresses that by listening to people about their experiences of health and social care services, managers can resolve mistakes faster, learn new ways to improve and prevent the same problems from happening in the future. In short, by dealing with complaints more effectively, services can get better, which will improve things for the people who use them as well as for the staff working in them.

Better Customer Care is available from DoH. http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_095408