Each of us come to our complaints like lambs to the slaughter. Naive and conditioned to believe in justice, we try to make sense of a system which has no logic, bends the truth, denies the facts and fails to understand plain English. You may be interested in reading the-complainants-paradox before you get too far into the process.
In an attempt to assist you through the maze here is a collection of advice pages to help you make decisions as you struggle to find your way. If you have any advice to offer to others then please send to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a parliamentary complaint you may like to look up your chances of success based on previous PHSO performance. In their 2016/17 report just 2.9% of all cases presented were upheld to some degree. Not good odds for all your time and trouble. You can see the complete figures (p40) in this report parliamentary complaints 2016/17
There are no advocacy groups to support those with parliamentary complaints apart from the Citizen Advice Bureau who suffer from both limited resources and lack of expertise when it comes to navigating a deliberately obtuse complaint process.
Here are a few pointers to consider:
- don’t let the caseworker scope anything out without a fight
- know that the Ombudsman is not your friend
- get your medical records before making any initial complaint to the hospital (less chance of records being lost)
- insist on discussing everything with your caseworker in depth before they issue the draft report – once they have issued the draft it gets much harder but you can ask for a second draft report rather than a final report if you remain dissatisfied.
The following may be helpful if you have an NHS complaint:
Lasting Power of Attorney:
If you have a vulnerable family member undertaking medical care then you may like to set up Lasting Power of Attorney so that you can protect their interests if they are unable to do so themselves. Having power of attorney will give you the right to see their medical records should you need to make a complaint.
Clinical Negligence Claim:
If you have a strong case of clinical negligence then side-step the Ombudsman altogether and go straight to court. The Ombudsman will simply waste your time, add to your frustration and may hinder further legal action in the future.
If you qualify you may be able to seek free legal advice from the pro-bono unit.
Bar Pro Bono Unit
The Bar Pro Bono Unit provides people with free legal advice and representation in court and tribunal cases from volunteer barristers. It only helps people who cannot afford to pay and not eligible for legal aid.
Your case must be referred to the Bar Pro Bono Unit by a solicitor or advice agency such as a CAB, law centre or MP. You can get further information from the Bar Pro Bono Unit’s website at barprobono.org.uk
adviceguide.org.uknhs_healthcare_complaints The bare facts of how to make an NHS complaint are laid out here on the Citizen’s Advice website.
The Patients Association patients-association.org.uk is a small, independent charity who help patients take their complaints forward. They also produce informative reports including two which condemned PHSO as not fit for purpose. Well worth a look round their site.
POhWER advocacy. www.pohwer These guys offer a free advocacy service. With the complexity of the NHS complaint system using POhWER could be a good move.
AvMA avma.org are a charity to support complainants with medical accidents, that also includes malpractice. They have a legal team who can put you on the right track.
Will Powell’s site robbieslawtrust.co.uk tells the tragic story of his personal fight for justice through the NHS complaint system. In 1989 his son Robbie aged 10 was admitted to hospital with critical loss of body weight and dehydration. He had at that time undiagnosed Addison’s disease which is completely treatable. Due to failures at the hospital and later with GPs, the appropriate tests were not given and Robbie died four months later from severe dehydration. This was a totally avoidable death. Will Powell then started a 27-year campaign to achieve justice for his son, which has taken him through every regulatory body and law process available. He has found clear evidence of an NHS cover-up and the falsification of records, but in 2000, when the case came to The European Court of Human Rights they determined that,
”As the law stands now, doctors have no duty to give parents of a child, who died as a result of their negligence, a truthful account of the circumstances of the death. Nor even to refrain from deliberately falsifying records.”
Will started a campaign called ‘Robbie’s Law’ which would make a ‘duty of candour’ a legal requirement. It would then be against the law for anyone within the NHS to lie or falsify records. Finally, in November 2014 a new ‘Duty of Candour’ and the ‘Fit and Proper Person Test’ became law. This legislation is still bedding down in the NHS and to date, there have been no test cases to ascertain its effectiveness. gov.uk/government/news/new-laws-for-more-open-and-safe-nhs-care-come-into-force
If you are currently making a complaint about the NHS, then you may find this page how-to-get-help from Will Powell’s site particularly useful.
Joanna Slater has a blog and a website which details the story of her own mother’s poor treatment in an NHS hospital and also records the stories of many others. It may help to know that you are not alone and there are a number of useful links on her blog. You can find her at joannaslater.com If you are trying to come to terms with the loss of a child The Compassionate Friends charity do a lot of good work supporting grieving families. www.tcf.org.uk
https://cnarchive.wordpress.com One man tries to put into words the tragedy of losing a son followed by the frustrating 8 year ordeal of seeking justice through the regulatory system, including PHSO.