§ Mrs. Brooke
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress his Department has made with reforms to the NHS complaints procedure. 934W
§ Mr. Lammy
[holding answer 3 July 2002]: We are currently considering reform of the NHS complaints, procedure following the independent evaluation in 1999–2000 and the subsequent listening exercise completed in October 2001, as well as the Chancellor's Budget statement and the subsequent publication of "Delivering the NHS Plan" in April this year. "Delivering the NHS Plan" set out the proposal to establish a new Commission for Health Care Audit and Inspection among whose responsibilities will be the independent scrutiny of complaints. The Chief Medical Officer is also considering, the scope for closer links between the systems for dealing with complaints and clinical negligence claims among the possible alternatives for clinical negligence reform. We hope to be able to indicate the way forward on the reforms soon.
Changes to the complaints procedure will need to take place in the context of the wider measures to empower patients and increase patient involvement in the development of health services. For example, patient advice and liaison services have already been or are being established in NHS and primary care trusts to help sort out problems on the spot.