NHS complaints and clinical failure evidence from sector experts

30 January 2015

The Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) announced an inquiry into how clinical failure and complaints are handled in the NHS, considering how clinical failure in the NHS is investigated—and how subsequent complaints are handled. There is suggestion of too much focus on apportioning blame and avoiding litigation, and not enough on learning and improving.


Tuesday 3 February 2015, Thatcher Room, Portcullis House.

At 9.30am

  • Keith Conradi, Chief Inspector of Air Accidents, Air Accidents Investigation Branch, 
  • Dr Mike Durkin, NHS England Director of Patient Safety, NHS England,
  • Denis Wilkins, Founder of CORESS.

At 10.30am

  • Helen Vernon, Chief Executive Officer, NHS Litigation Authority, 
  • Professor Brian Toft, Professor of Patient Safety, Coventry University, 
  • Michael Devlin, Head of Professional Standards and Liaison, Medical Defence Union, 
  • Ed Marsden, Verita LLP.

Purpose of the inquiry

The Committee is considering ways that untoward clinical incidents could be investigated immediately at a local level, so that facts and evidence are established early, without the need to find blame, and regardless of whether a complaint has been raised. It is hoped that this work will reduce the need for complaints to go to the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman (PHSO), whose main role relates to administrative and service failures in the NHS in England. 

The Committee will take evidence from a number of witnesses concluding with Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary, on Wednesday 25 February, before making recommendations to Parliament.

The Committee received a great deal of written evidence from the medical profession and from members of the public and has agreed to keep accepting written submissions from the public throughout this inquiry.

Questions to witnesses

Questions to the first panel of witnesses on Tuesday will examine accident reporting and critical investigations including NHS England’s roles and responsibilities in relation to patient safety; from 10.30am questioning will focus on the challenges of medical incident investigation and legal challenges.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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