Published: 03/02/2005, Volume II4, No. 5941 Page 5

Healthcare Commission head of operational development Marcia Fry said the new body was expecting 9,000 complaints in its first year of handling the process, compared to around 3,000 secondstage complaints under the previous system.

She said more people might be making complaints because they felt the new system was more independent.

Ms Fry admitted the system was struggling.

She told HSJ: 'Of course it is not good enough. This is not a position we would want to be in.

The delay is much too long for the complainants and that is why we are taking all these actions to speed things up and get to an acceptable level of service.' Questioned about the fact that only four panels have been held, Ms Fry said the commission was keen to 'rely less on panels as the exclusive way of trying to resolve complaints' given that they could be very stressful for the complainant and did not necessarily achieve the best resolution.