Health service commissioner Michael Buckley has said he would like to see more financial compensation paid to patients whose complaints about the NHS are upheld.

The ombudsman told HSJ that sums of 'several hundred pounds' could be paid to patients 'as a means of redress under the NHS complaints procedure'.

In a memo responding to health secretary Frank Dobson's consultation on ways of reducing NHS litigation, Mr Buckley argues that the courts and existing complaints systems deal adequately with serious medical negligence cases and 'relatively minor shortcomings'.

But he argues that they miss a 'middle group of cases' in which complainants 'suffer significant loss or damage through... shortcomings in the standard of care that do not amount to negligence.'

These patients have no means of pursing their case except through the courts, he notes. 'Their case will probably fail, so they will be left with an unremedied grievance and legal costs as well.'