Skip to main content

Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-18524: ()

Date lodged: 3 September 2018

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will assess NHS board complaint procedures regarding the performance and attitudes of staff towards patients, to protect the physical and mental wellbeing of patients.

Answered by: Jeane Freeman 11 September 2018

The revised NHS complaints procedure implemented from April 2017 provides a formal route for patients and their families to express concerns about any aspect of NHS services.

The new procedure reflects the broader ambition for the NHS in Scotland to be an open, learning organisation that listens and acts to feedback and when unintended harm is caused. It also supports our NHS staff to engage with people at an early stage, to understand what is important to them about their complaint and what outcomes they wish to see.

The Patient Rights (Feedback, Comments, Concerns and Complaints) (Scotland) Directions 2017 require boards to produce quarterly reports against a set of standardised performance indicators. These indicators are designed to highlight: changes or improvements to services or procedures because of consideration of complaints (learning); complainants’ experience in relation to the complaints service provided; and the levels of staff awareness and training in relation to complaints handling, adverse events and duty of candour.

The 2017 Directions set out the requirement for NHS Senior management to review the information gathered in these reports quarterly, with complaints information analysed for trend information to ensure service failures are identified and appropriate action taken.

Boards are also required by the Directions to produce and publish annual reports in relation to complaints, feedback, comments and concerns, and submit a copy to a number of organisations, including Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman.

Following the BBC Disclosure programme ‘Harmed by my surgeon’, which was broadcast on 3 September and which focused on Professor Eljamel, former neurosurgeon at NHS Tayside, I have written to all NHS Boards in Scotland seeking assurance that processes are in place for Boards to detect and to respond to clusters of complaints about the same staff member and to clarify what arrangements are in place for ensuring timely decision making when the safety of practice of a Consultant is raising concern.

We recognise that some patients need help and support with making complaints and the Patient Advice and Support Service (PASS) provides this. PASS operates independently of the NHS and provides free, confidential information, advice and support to anyone who uses the NHS in Scotland. In 2017-18, the PASS service supported over 3000 clients.