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Putting things right

​This section explains what happens if we uphold a complaint about an organisation.

Making recommendations

If we fully or partly uphold a complaint, we can recommend what action an organisation needs to take. This could mean acknowledging mistakes, apologising or making a payment. We can recommend the organisation makes a payment for a number of reasons, for example:

  • someone has been left out of pocket
  • someone was distressed at seeing a loved one in pain
  • an individual has suffered damage to their reputation.

We can also ask the organisation to put together an action plan to prevent the same mistakes happening to someone else, address failures in its system and improve its service. For recommendations, we apply our Principles for Remedy.

Our recommendations can directly affect a member of staff involved in the investigation. For example, if we uphold or partly uphold a complaint involving a doctor, we may send a copy of the final report to their responsible officer to be considered as part of the revalidation of the doctor.

Following up

If we make recommendations, we will follow up on them until they are acted on. Our follow up includes sending an initial letter reminding the organisation when our recommendations are due to be completed. We will explain what they need to do to meet the recommendations, and let them know what action we will take if we find our recommendations have not been acted on by the agreed deadline. For example, we may contact a senior manager about the issue.

We do not have legal powers to enforce our recommendations, but where an organisation is reluctant to implement them, we will try our best to persuade it to do so. In the last three years, over 99% of our recommended remedies have been put into effect.

On the rare occasion that an organisation fails or refuses to carry out a recommendation, and an injustice to an individual is not put right, we take it very seriously. As a last resort we can make a special report to Parliament about an organisation's failure to carry out our recommendations. In health cases we may make regulators or clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) aware of such a failure.

As part of our work to help the NHS in England, UK government departments and other UK public organisations to learn and improve from complaints, we publish the findings of some of our investigations. For example, we have published a selection of case summaries, which are shortened, anonymised versions of completed investigations.

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