HL Deb 11 December 2002 vol 642 cc39-40WA
Lord Ashley of Stoke

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What action they have taken to ensure that families and elderly residents in private residential care homes have complaints fully investigated; what actions management can be required to take; what monitoring is in place; what sanctions are available; and what compensation is available to residents if there is evidence of negligence and abuse. [HL132]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath)

Under the Care Standards Act care homes are required to have robust procedures for dealing with complaints made by residents or people acting on their behalf. The National Care Standards Commission (NCSC) is responsible for ensuring that care homes complaints procedures conform to the regulations and meet national standards. The NCSC also has discretionary powers to investigate complaints which may inform its role as a regulator.

People who have concerns about a particular care home can raise these with the NCSC in its role as regulator. The NCSC has strong enforcement powers and we expect it to take swift action where it has concerns that the welfare of care home residents is at risk.

The NCSC is required to inspect all care homes at least twice a year. One of these inspections should be unannounced. But the NCSC can, and does, inspect more often where it has concerns.

In addition, local councils and primary care trusts have the power to investigate complaints under the social service complaints procedure and the NHS complaints procedure respectively for people whose care they commissioned.

Anyone who is dissatisfied with the outcome of their complaint or the regulatory activity of the NCSC can ask the relevant ombudsman to investigate.

These procedures are about resolving the complaint or regulatory enforcement action by the NCSC. Issues of compensation are a matter for the courts and anyone seeking compensation should obtain independent legal advice on how best to proceed.