​How we support investigations into NHS complaints and make our health service work better

Hospital corridor with nurses and patients
Lead clinician

Our investigators are highly effective, but they do not have clinical backgrounds. Clinical advisers provide that expertise for complaints we receive about NHS treatment and care. Robust clinical advice is essential for quality investigations as it gives the public confidence in our decision making. Clinical advice is provided by examining the evidence in the clinical record and assessing it according to appropriate guidance and standards.

My team is overflowing with professional expertise from a wide range of clinical backgrounds, including surgery, cardiology, general practice, mental health, obstetrics and nursing.

We have more than 700 advisers, who deal with 5,000 requests for clinical advice each year. Each one must be currently practising in the NHS so they are up to date in their field.

Most advisers provide only occasional specialist advice, but we do have a core of 40 who work one day each week in either our London or Manchester office.

In my experience clinicians join us, above all, because they want to help patients and families who feel treatment has not been up to standard.

The work provides clinical advisers with a new perspective on complaints as opportunities for learning rather than something to fear. That can only be a good thing for our patients and the NHS as whole.

I myself am a trained adult and paediatric nurse with over 30 years' experience of working in the NHS.

I have enjoyed working here since I joined as a clinical adviser over 10 years ago because I wanted to make a difference.

Working for the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, provides clinicians with an opportunity to reflect on their own work in the NHS and keep up to date with the national guidelines. This can help to enhance their professional practice enormously.