Published: 14/07/2005, Volume II5, No. 115 Page 20 21

Marcia Fry, head of operational development, Healthcare Commission

I wanted to clarify a point in your story 'Complaints protocol aims to improve trust response' (news, page 8, 30 June, 2005).

Your article stated that discussions are under way on the creation of a core standard on complaints that would affect trusts' annual ratings if they failed to meet it. We would like to emphasise that such a standard already exists, core standard 14 of the Department of Health's National Standards Local Action, and compliance with this will be assessed in our 2005-06 performance ratings.

We are drawing up a set of criteria, with input from the ombudsman and the DoH, on how compliance with the standard will be assessed, which we will publish once finalised.

We are also jointly discussing with the ombudsman and the DoH possible revision to the standard for future years, which reflects the aim to improve local complaints handling.