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An opportunity to improve

You said, we did

During our review, all four of our organisations have received feedback on our own complaint handling and what it is GPs and practice managers would welcome from us to support them to do this better. 

Therefore in response, we will commit to taking the following action:

NHS England will:

  • continue the work it has begun with Health Education England and others, to ensure that primary care complaint
  • handlers have access to high quality and relevant training relating to the management of complaints.
  • work with the Department of Health to produce a guide to the Complaints Regulations for primary care. 
  • look to develop closer working relationships with local medical committees to support effective complaint handling locally. 
  • review the ways in which complaints information is used with other forms of feedback such as staff feedback,
  • patient safety alerts and general queries to aid decision making and service improvement in primary care. 
  • look to improve the quality of reporting of complaints to the Health and Social Care Information Centre as part of the official complaints return KO41 process. 

Care Quality Commission will:

  • continue to review compliant handling in its general practice inspections.
  • publish a ‘myth-buster’ on GP practice complaint handling. 
  • provide additional guidance to inspectors on complaint handling in GP practices.
  • share any immediate issues of concern with the relevant stakeholders.

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman will:

  • look to build closer relationships with CCGs to update them on our insight. 
  • produce guidance for practices on working with the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. 
  • clearly explain our decisions and recommendations, how we reached them, and the information we used. 

Healthwatch England will:

  • continue our work on developing a local complaints toolkit, which will support local Healthwatch to scrutinise local
  • complaints services and offer constructive suggestions for improvements to CCGs, GPs and practice managers.
  • in our role as a statutory consultee on the annual refresh of the NHS Mandate, hold NHS England to account on
  • the need for complaints to be used as learning points, in order to improve quality of care and services for patients.
  • complement the work of the other organisations contributing to the review by continuing to encourage a shift in the culture on complaints.

Together we will:

  • continue to signpost individuals to the organisations that can take on their complaint. 
  • continue to share best practice, themes and lessons learned from our own organisations’ unique view of the system. 
  • continue to explore the development of an NHS-wide survey of complainants to measure satisfaction levels.
  • support NHS England to run an annual complaints conference to help share and disseminate innovative and good practice. 
  • produce tips for general practice to help them improve their complaint handling (Annex C). 
  • ensure the new models are used as an opportunity to make the complaints system simpler for the provider and patient.