Thursday, 21 August 2008

Complaints handling

The latest Trust board Performance Report from BLPT reveals that "There were 2 complaints due for response in May which were not resolved within 25 working days. One was due to the complexity of the complaint; the other was due to unavailability of Trust staff involved in the investigation process due to sickness."

I wonder how the Trust Board responded to that. My response would be to ask people to cut the excuses. The HCC already lays down an immense window for Trusts to respond to complaints. To say you couldn't meet that due to the complexity of the complaint is rubbish - it's a matter of identifying the issues. To say you couldn't meet that due to staff being unavailable is also (imo) an excuse - if necessary you should be able to go to other staff for information; BLPT talk about team working.

Guidance from the Healthcare Commission states that,

The NHS (Complaints) Amendment Regulations 2006 specify a period of 25 working days for local resolution. The Regulations stipulate that the 25-day deadline can be extended, but only with the agreement of the complainant.

If I were on the Trust Board I would be asking whether the complainant HAD agreed to the extension.

More widely, I feel this links in to discussions I have had with others regarding the attitude of NHS Mental Health Trust management in particular towards their "service users". On the ground there is some variation in attitudes. However, it seems that in management there is still often an apparant expectation that people who are mentally ill are also less intelligent, easily distracted, not deserving of the full facts. I described it to someone else as a paternalistic attitude.

Now, when I am at my very worst, I know my thinking is slowed down. I also know that i tend to respond emotionally. However, that does not mean I (or anyone else) should be treated as if I was stupid (which has happened to me in the past).

Maybe this ties in with what Lindylooz was writing about - the need for a complete shift in attitudes towards mental health.


mandy lifeboats appeal said...

Hi C

After reading what Silvawings wrote on their blog about systems excluding the most vulnerable and your posting about expecting compliance from service users in regards to policies and procedures they don't understand and, generally, service managers don't inform them about, my view is that systems serve themselves not their clients/patients.

They have zilch savvy (which I think comes from arrogance) that people are not going to comprehend what their policies are. Do they think service users are mind readers? And for people who are in the midst of their illness do Trust Managers think that sending pages of waffle will help service users to understand their policies any better?

As for adhering to set timescales, I would say when the Trust leads by example then it can ask those who use its service to follow suit and The Healthcare Commission should be on to that by now as in ensuring timescales are met by Trusts.

The Shrink said...

I'm investigating a complaint that, effectively, I made.

The Consultant being investigated has now gone off for over a month.

Although I've audited case notes, interviewed folk, sought and received written comment from patients, carers and care home staff, I can't resolve it all within 25 days 'cause I can't speak to him in that time.

So, sometimes, I can see why sickness can mean that complaints take more than 25 days to finish.

Silvawingz said...

I thinl complaints are probably very difficult - everyone has different expectations of a service to start with...........I do think that they should be dealt with properly though.