Advising with empathy and experience

Ombudsman warns of NHS failings.



Dame Julie Mellor, NHS Ombudsman, has suggested that patients who suffer from poor care in hospitals are being failed by a “toxic cocktail” inside the NHS.

The Ombudsman reported that people often did not complain because they feared even worse treatment.  Those who did complain experienced “a culture of defensiveness” from staff.

Dame Julie said that she wanted to see changes, including a free 24 hour patient’s advice service and for each patient to be given the name of a senior person, usually the ward sister, as a point of first contact.  The Ombudsman also highlighted the fact that those who suffer harm are often denied a simple apology.

Richard Wood of the CNCI team welcomed Dame Julie’s comments.  He said “It is our experience that patients who raise concerns or make complaints rarely benefit from doing so.  They may be worried about the repercussions of a complaint.  Alternatively, they meet a culture of defensiveness that denies them any answers or explanations.  Even where it is clear problems have occurred, NHS Trusts rarely offer apologies.  In many cases they will issue apologies many years after an event and after they have paid compensation.

"The NHS has a wonderful opportunity to listen to the concerns of patients and to address complaints openly, honestly and with humanity.  If they are able to do so, this will be a positive step, will improve treatment for all and will help to reduce the number of claims brought against the NHS”.