Headlines: March 24th, 2006

A new improvement programme is being launched for health care staff who have to deal with the more than 130,000 written complaints received by the National Health Service each year. It uses enquiry and work-based learning to improve the effectiveness of staff who manage complaints.The Managing Complaints for Service Improvement programme has been developed by the Institute of Healthcare Management in conjunction with the Department of Health. It has been designed to help health organisations to enhance the local resolution of complaints through improvements in investigation and by ensuring lessons learned by the organisation are put into practice.

The course is in line with the IHM’s aim of enhancing and promoting high standards of professional healthcare management to improve health and care for the public. The IHM says the NHS receives 133,000 written complaints on average each year. It says the majority of these are handled professionally but adds that there is a lack of consistency from the patients’ point of view. Complaints often remain unresolved due in part, the IHM says, to an absence of investigative skills among staff.

The new programme is being offered to all health care staff involved with complaints, either within their services or as departmental managers, and the IHM says other people involved in managing complaints could benefit from the competencies they would gain.

The programme, which costs 800 pounds, will run in a number of locations with start dates staggered from mid-May to the end of June. The first of these is in London from May 15th with sessions beginning in Durham, Birmingham, Winchester and Macclesfield. More details are available from education@ihm.org.uk <mailto:education@ihm.org.uk>