New regulations to speed up the NHS complaints procedure in Wales have been announced by health minister Edwina Hart.

The Welsh Assembly confirmed it had passed the National Health Service Concerns Complaints and Redress Arrangements Regulations 2011, which examines how local health boards investigate reports of medical situations going wrong.

Among the key changes include the ability of any patient, including children, to be given “proper support” when making a complaint and a more “simplified” process.

The assembly government also said that local health boards would now be able to investigate primary care complaints themselves rather than acting as “facilitators”.

Mrs Hart, AM for Gower, added: “Hundreds of thousands of people are seen and treated by the NHS in Wales without any problems every year, but from time to time when things do go wrong or not provided to the standard that we would expect, then is only right that the arrangements for investigating the situation should be as straight-forward and supportive as possible.

“That is the primary aim of these very comprehensive regulations.

“I want the NHS in Wales to adopt the ‘investigate once, investigate well’ philosophy, for everyone to play their part in resolving problems and learn from poor experiences of care, or from when mistakes happen.”

The regulations are due to come into force on 1 April 2011.