Complaints procedure in England resumes after pandemic

NHS England is planning to resume normal complaints services and the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has also announced it plans to restart.

From 1 July 2020, the NHS complaints procedure is planning to restart after being paused during the pandemic. The announcement about the planned resumption was made by Amanda Pritchard, NHS England Chief Operating Officer and NHS Improvement Chief Executive, as part of the NHS Leaders' update.

The PHSO also announced a resumption of its work, recognising that considerable pressures remain on the NHS and that this may impact complaint handling.

The NHS complaints processes were put on hold in England at the end of March 2020 and while all complaints should have been logged and acknowledged, only those that raised concerns about patient safety needed to be investigated. At the same time, the PHSO in England also announced that they would pause their work on health complaints. This included accepting new complaints.

Despite this pause in the complaints processes, MDU members have notified hundreds of complaints to the advisory department since the 23 March lockdown. Complaints notified, which include those related to the delivery of NHS care during the pandemic, now stand at 500 cases.

Dealing with paused complaints

Complaints managers should now return to complaints that have been acknowledged but not formally dealt with, so they can be investigated and responded to in the normal way. New complaints received should also be dealt with according to the usual NHS complaints procedure.

There may have been inevitable delays in dealing with some complaints and we encourage members to seek advice from our specialist medical advisory team.

The NHS complaints procedure remains paused in Northern Ireland. At the time of writing, no announcements had been made in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales about when the PHSO complaints process will return to normal.

This page was correct at publication on 19/06/2020. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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