Chris Smyth reports on the comments from Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association in The Times 16th Jan 2017: NHS complaint body is ‘biased and ineffective’. The Ombudsman’s Health Report: “Learning from mistakes” seem rather ironic..
The NHS fails to learn from its mistakes because the body that investigates complaints is incompetent and biased, patient advocates say today.
The Patients Association accuses the NHS ombudsman of failing to stand up for people who have suffered at the hands of the health service. People who complain face a battle against an organisation that is ineffective and unfair, a report published today has concluded.
“The experience of too many complainants remains of a system which is too complicated, unresponsive and lacking in compassion,” Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the association, said. The report accuses the ombudsman of ignoring evidence, dragging out investigations for years and being biased in favour of the NHS.
Basic errors such as wrong names and treatments litter the ombudsman’s reports and investigators lack rigour, the association said. It also says the ombudsman does not do enough to make sure the NHS avoids repeating mistakes. “Some people describe that they feel they are battling the [ombudsman],” Ms Murphy said. “They feel exhausted by the whole process.”
Complainants said they felt investigations were a whitewash, or failed to challenge “manifestly duplicitous and flawed NHS processes”. Staff were rude, dismissive and insensitive, they said. One case highlighted a family who had to keep retelling the story of their daughter’s death to new investigators.
A spokeswoman for the ombudsman said: “Our processes are fair and robust and we constantly seek feedback from complainants. We recognise there can be times when people find it hard to agree with our findings.”