Agenda item


Members to receive a report on the Corporate Complaints Procedure including details of how formal complaints are managed, current performance levels and actions being taken to improve.



Members received a report highlighting the management and oversight processes of formal complaints, in University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL) including current performance and actions being taken to improve.


Richard Mitchell Chief Executive Officer UHL introduced the report and noted that the Trust had undertaken a review of its complaints process over the last 12 months and taken steps to improve the management and oversight of its complaints processes as it was felt the complaint process was not working as it should and had probably deteriorated throughout the Covid pandemic.


Members were informed that during the review it was found that it was difficult for patients and people to informally make complaints and so UHL were looking to open up drop in options at some sites across the city centre for people to come in and raise their concerns without the formality of writing a complaint.


It was also found to be difficult for some people to understand how best to contact the organisation and so the Trust was looking at dedicated phone lines that would be answered by people who understood what was being asked as well as making improvements to the website which was not always easy to navigate.


It was noted that 28% of people living in Leicester City did not speak English as their first language so UHL were aiming to take account of that when responding and looking at ways to ensure responses aligned to the diverse needs of population. UHL were working towards a clearer process for handling and responding to complaint letters in clear succinct language and recognised the importance of listening to views of patients and public. Some progress had been made although there was more to do and UHL were committed to engage with patients and communities.


Members welcomed the initiatives being taken forward to improve the complaint procedure and expressed interest in hearing about complaints that led to compensation and figures of money being paid out.


Members were impressed by the move to have drop in options to enable people to informally raise their concern and understood the motivation to reduce complaints although there was some hesitation that it may lead to an increase in “complaints” as more people were likely to drop in as most people don’t take the time to write complaints or did not have confidence to write a complaint.


It was commented that complaints should be resolved as quickly as possible and if someone can’t get what they expect then their feelings should at least be acknowledged.


Members noted that from an organisational point, complaints were opportunity to learn but it was also important to view them alongside any compliments received.


Richard Mitchell CEO agreed with the points made and commented that a primary reason for making the changes was to also ensure it was easier for those who were waiting months and couldn’t make contact to be able to raise their concerns and reduce anxiety about waiting etc as well as making services more accessible.


In terms of learning from complaints raised, this was something that UHL did and information was triangulated into dashboards.


It was clarified that changing the way of working would not change or prevent the most serious concerns from being raised but it would help for those that just needed reassurance or an immediate response about being on a waiting list for example.


Members noted the frustrations with the UHL website and suggested improvements to that could help people access information without the need to raise a complaint.


Councillor O’Donnell left the meeting 1.30pm, meeting remains quorate.


Members noted that signage across UHL sites was a cause for complaint and it had previously been indicated that signage would be addressed to improve flow of people around buildings.


Members expressed some concern that communications for local NHS were still not what they should be, and that patient expectation had moved on in last 5 years, but the NHS hadn’t moved at all in the way it communicates and one of the problems for people on waiting lists a long time was that they weren’t kept updated leading to frustration.


Members asked about corporate patient safety and whether complaints around that showed any trends, increases or reductions.


It was brought to attention that a lot of patients and family members were scared to make complaints about their care as they felt future care would be adversely affected and assurance was sought that would not happen.


Responding to some of the points made it was stated that UHL were moving “complaints” into a wider conversation about patient experience. In relation to the number of complaints about corporate patient safety and trajectories that information was not to hand, and it was recognised there was a need for UHL to understand any trends or themes and it was agreed that as they established a new way of working it was highly likely the overall number of concerns being raised would increase. UHL also expected that over time they could see concerns raised going up as confidence in being able to raise it but also more balance when things were working and other ways of bringing issues to attention could see a drop. Assurance was given that people’s care would not be affected by them raising concerns and there was absolutely not a 2-tiered system of promoting those who “shouted loudest” up waiting lists over those less likely to raise concerns.


The Chair thanked officers for their comments and indicated that she would like to see a report with more narrative to understand how the complaints procedure works and for an update on how the procedure had moved on, including the whole idea of patient experience, and learning from complaints.



That a full report setting out how the complaints procedure works, how the procedure has moved on, including the patient experience and learning from complaints together with performance trends and dashboard data be provided to a future meeting to enable better understanding.

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