Headlines: June 21st, 2007



Plans have been published to bring together the health and social care complaints processes by focusing on the service user rather than the service provider. The plan would also end the need to make more than one complaint when the service extends beyond more then one provider.

The new unified arrangements, which will include complaints about children’s services, seek to resolve complaints locally. There will be a more personal and flexible approach to handling complaints and the new arrangements are designed to ensure early and effective resolution. People will no longer need to know about the organisational structure to make a complaint and where different organisations are concerned; one complaint will trigger the process. There will also be support for people making a complaint.

Research for the new arrangements revealed that some people are reluctant to complain direct to the services providers, such as GP or social worker, for fear of repercussions. To remove this barrier the proposals provide an option for complaints to be made to a primary care trust or to a local authority.

The handling of complaints will also be sharpened up. Problems currently occur where there are communication failures or service delivery problems between several providers. Cross boundary complaints have been notoriously difficult to resolve and in a number of cases it only became apparent that another organisational group was responsible for a problem when the complaint procure reached the closing stage. The new arrangements will ensure that a service user centred perspective of the total service is taken on receipt of the complaint.

Primary care trusts and local authorities will be responsible for setting up the new arrangements and all service providers will be monitored to ensure that complaints are handled effectively and that the feedback gained from the process is used to improve services.

Consultation on the proposals will end on 17th October 2007.