Reformed handling of complaints at Lincolnshire hospitals recognised

A change in the way Lincolnshire hospitals deal with complaints from patients has been praised – just two years after it was heavily criticised in a national report.

In 2013, the Keogh review into the quality of care at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust concluded that the complaints process was ‘not fit for purpose’.

Since the report was published, ULHT has developed a new way complaints process called ‘See it My Way’ which it claims has “put the patient at the heart of every decision.”

The new process has seen the Patient Advice Liaison Service hours extended to cover visiting hours in the evenings and weekends – with this improvement set to begin at Lincoln County Hospital later this year.

Senior managers are now expected to make initial contact with complainants after concerns were raised that managers were not reading patients’ complaints, and a peer review process has been introduced.

Medical notes will be retained in a new site complaints office for ease of access and a change register has been developed to ensure that lessons are learned from mistakes.

Since the changes, the number of outstanding complaints has fallen to 154 from almost 300 in January this year, and the trust are hopeful that the backlog of complaints will be cleared by the end of 2015.

Speaking at Lincolnshire County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee, Jennie Negus, Deputy Chief Nurse at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “The new reforms were introduced in times of significant challenges for the trust and were massive cultural changes for everyone.

“We are managing people’s concerns far more promptly – we are being truthful, open and honest and complainants are generally satisfied with our resolutions.

“Our work has been noticed as we were finalists in the Patient Experience Network National Awards, which shows how far we have come.”

Chair of the committee, Councillor Christine Talbot, added: “I’m really pleased with the results and have always said that complaints are about fixing things by finding out what has gone wrong so services can be improved.

“The new initiative of actually sitting down with complainants face-to-face so they are kept in the loop seems to have made a huge difference and was long overdue.”