This report calls for a revolution in the way in which the NHS handles complaints throught better transparency, learning lessons from mistakes and for continuous improvements in quality.
Areas for improvement:
- improving the quality of care
- improving the way complaints are handled
- ensuring independence in the complaints procedures
“A health service that does not listen to complaints is unlikely to reflect its patients’ needs. One that does will be more likely to detect the early warning signs that something requires correction, to address such issues and to protect others from harmful treatment.”
Robert Francis QC 
- Board level responsibility – Chief Executives need to take responsibility forsigning off complaints. The Trust Board should also scrutinise all complaints and evaluate what action has been taken. A board member with responsibility for whistleblowing should also be accessible to staff on a regular basis.
- Transparency – Trusts must publish an annual complaints report in plain English which should state complaints made and changes that have taken place.
- More information on the wards – Trusts should ensure that there is a range of basic information and support on the ward for patients, such as a description of who is who on the ward and what time visiting and meals take place.
- Trust complaints scrutiny- Patients and communities should be involved in designing and monitoring the complaints system in hospitals.
- Easier ways to communicate – Trusts should provide patients with a way of feeding back comments and concerns about their care on a ward, including by putting a pen and paper by the bedside and making sure patients know who they can speak to, to raise a concern.
- Patient services and independent advice – the Patient Advice and Liaison Service should be rebranded and reviewed so its offer to patients is clearer and it should be adequately resourced in every hospital. The Independent Advocacy Services should also be rebranded and reorganised.