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New NHS England toolkit will help track the quality of complaint handling

Health Liaison Manager

Over three years ago, we worked with Healthwatch England and the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, to create a user-led vision that would help improve the way complaints are handled across the NHS and social care. 

We spoke to complainants, carers, advocates and patient groups to help us understand what matters most to people making a complaint during what could be a stressful and difficult time.

‘My Expectations’: A user-led vision

In 2014, we published ‘My Expectations’. This set out what it feels like from a complainant’s point of view when a health or social care organisation handles a complaint well. 

It follows their journey through the complaints process – from when they first consider making a complaint, to when they reflect on the experience of having done so.

As Liaison Manager at the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, I often visit NHS organisations to talk about what makes effective complaint handling. 

Complaint teams tell me how useful they have found ‘My Expectations’ when reviewing and changing their processes. They say that it has helped them focus on the experience of complainants rather than take an organisational perspective. 

New tools to track the quality of complaint handling

As a next step, I am pleased to say that NHS England has now launched a complainant experience survey and toolkit. These resources will help health and social care organisations across the country track the quality of their complaint handling. 

A number of organisations volunteered to pilot the survey and toolkit. Their experiences have been captured in a series of case studies, including examples of improvements they made to their complaints process. 

The final survey, toolkit and case studies are available on NHS England’s website. Please take a look at these resources and use them alongside ‘My Expectations’ to help improve the way your organisation deals with complaints.

Complaints offer an opportunity to learn from mistakes and improve services. We want everyone to be able to say: ‘I felt that my complaint made a difference.’ These resources can help make that happen.