Terms of Reference: Complaints and raising concerns

03 February 2014

In light of the Francis Report, the Health Committee has decided to inquire into complaints and raising concerns within the NHS.

The Health Select Committee’s 2011 inquiry into Complaints and Litigation recommended that the Government undertake a review of the NHS complaints system. It also made recommendations about the roles of the Ombudsman, advice and advocacy services, providers and commissioners, and about the co-ordination and monitoring of complaints handling across the NHS. In its response to the Committee’s report, the Government accepted that "whilst some NHS organisations respond quickly and effectively to complaints, others are not so effective", and agreed that "the NHS can do more to improve complaints handling."

The period since the publication of the Committee's report into Complaints and Litigation has seen the implementation of the Health and Social Care Act 2012; the publication of the Francis report; and, in October 2013, the publication of the Clwyd-Hart Review of the NHS Hospitals Complaints System. The Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman has also recently published research on NHS hospital complaints. The Government provided its formal response to the Francis report in November 2013.

As well as complaints and concerns made by patients and members of the public, the Francis report has also highlighted the related issue of the way in which complaints and concerns raised by staff within health and care organisations were handled.

Terms of Reference

With this in mind, the Committee has decided to review progress in improving the handling of complaints from patients and the public, and concerns raised by staff. Specifically, the inquiry will consider:

  • Handling of complaints made by patients and families about care received in the health and care sectors, including both primary and secondary care providers;
  • Handling of concerns raised by staff about care given in the health and care sectors;
  • The extent to which the findings of recent inquiries have been incorporated into the complaints process;
  • Support for patients, the public and staff who wish to make complaints or raise concerns;
  • The consequences of complaints for care providers and of raising concerns for the employment prospects of staff;
  • Openness about complaints and concerns, and accessibility of information;
  • The role of commissioners, system regulators and professional regulators with regard to complaints and concerns;
  • The operation of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 in relation to health and social care;
  • Future plans for improvements in this area.

Please note: the Health Committee examines policy issues related to the Department of Health and its associated bodies. It is unable to investigate, or adjudicate on, individual cases.

Written evidence must be submitted via the web portal and the deadline for submitting written evidence is Friday 7 March 2014.

Further information

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