Putting complaints at the heart of governance

Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust set up a regular complaints panel meeting between senior staff to discuss complaints.

The panel meets monthly to scrutinise a range of formal complaints logged within the Trust, and review any resulting actions and procedural changes. It helps keep up the momentum on learning from complaints and monitor how the Trust is performing.

The Patient Relations Team present quantitative data on:

  • the number of complaints received
  • the number of cases re-opened
  • the number of complaints acknowledged within the three-day requirement
  • final response deadlines.

This discussion gives the Patient Relations Team the opportunity to flag any delayed responses and bottlenecks within the complaint process.Cases that have been referred to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman are also discussed.

Any recommendations from final reports are shared with the Panel with an update on completed actions. This forum gives the Panel an opportunity to identify any high-risk complaints and those which need wider discussion.

It also enables senior leaders to come together regularly to oversee what feedback and complaints data is telling them about their service, and what action is being taken to learn from complaints.

This has succeeded in keeping complaints high on the agenda of the Trust's leadership. In turn, it has had a positive impact on staff recognising the importance that is placed on good complaint handling.

Have your say in shaping the future of NHS complaint handling

We've been working in partnership to design a draft Complaint Standards Framework for NHS staff. This will provide a consistent approach and support to frontline staff, and help senior leaders to promote a positive culture that embraces learning from complaints.

We're currently seeking views on the draft version of the Framework. Find out more and have your say.

More good practice in complaint handling:

This case summary is also featured in the Making Complaints Count: Supporting complaints handling in the NHS report