Again, I have been taking my regular look at the Trust board minutes and agenda and associated papers.
Apparently the long-awaited survey of people who have made a complaint against BLPT, designed to elicit their experience of the complaints process, has now been drafted. As I said before, this has only taken 15 months. So you would expect complainants can now be surveyed? Not so. "Consultation with stakeholders on the content of the survey is being undertaken at the current time." I wonder how long that will take - another 15 months, perhaps?
Nonetheless, BLPT feel they are justified in making their assurance to the HCC that people are not discriminated against, as "The assurance given had been gained from the number of regular surveys of all service users and feedback gained both through those systems and the PALs service." Hmm. Can't say I recall every being asked about my experience of the results of complaining. Nor can I say I would feel confident in addressing those concerns via the PALS system.
But that's not all, it's OK, the Trust can also feel confident that users of the complaints system are happy because, "the complaints resolution process allows for a complainant to progress their complaint to the Health Care Commission. The number of complaints that progress this route is very small as a proportion of complaints received. It could be taken as an indirect indication that users were satisfied with their experience of the complaints service." That's OK then. The Trust doesn't actually need to carry out this survey, because it already knows the answer.
Alison Davis, the Chair of BLPT, "expressed her concern that the delay in getting the questionnaire completed had been so lengthy. " I wonder whether any monitoring is planned of how long it takes to actually send these surveys out to complainants and analyse the results? Probably not. After all, nobody seemed to question the non-appearance of the surveys over the last 15 months or more.
I wonder how many other initiatives which could make a difference have been similarly "forgotten" by the Trust Board.
Complaints "activity" is featured in the monthly Performance Report. I can't say it is analysed, because in many cases I can't understand what is meant and there seems not attempt to draw conclusions from the data presented. The bar chart showing recent activity is horrendously unclear; the same colour is used for two different bars (which makes the key meaningless!); a distinction is made between "Complaints" and "Serious Complaints" but there is not attempt to define these two terms. According to the graph, no complaints were resolved within 25 working days. Again, there is no explanation of this. In the table showing the Top 3 complaints, the main category was "Other". Great opportunities for learning from experience there, then - what does "Other" mean? Are they all different "Others" or the same "Other"? Who knows? In the past, Board papers included a summary of each complaint received. This enabled Board members to pick out individual complaints and respond to them (such as the gentleman who was refused Halal meat). There seems no opportunity to do similarly with the current system. The main conclusion seems to be that there is "quicker turnaround" of complaints. No mention of whether complainants feel their complaint has been resolved. No mention of how many people have been ignored when they have tried to have continuing concerns responded to, as has been my experience. It's not the individual complaints or complainants that matter here - just the statistics. Perhaps one reason for the delay in engaging with complainants through a properly constructed survey is that the COmplaints Department don't actually want to know how individuals feel - they just want to churn out the right numbers.