I read David Peat's article on lost baggage and fielding complaints with great interest. His comments in the penultimate paragraph are particularly encouraging.
As someone who has been engaged in correspondence with an NHS Trust for the past 22 months, in relation to serious allegations of neglect and abuse, I am well aware of the NHS's shortcomings when dealing with complaints from patients/carers.
My own experience has highlighted the fact that, often, trusts are unwilling to engage with complainants in order to reach early resolution. Rather, unless the complainant capitulates at the first hurdle, 'the placebo response' to the complaint, Trusts can become defensive and offensive, endeavouring to malign the patient rather than identify failings within their own 'care' system. This is a rather unfortunate state of affairs.
In his final paragraph, David Peat rightly states 'I refuse to have a 'blame culture' in our organisation because I want to encourage a willingness to admit errors without fear so they can be reported and learned from.
The essence is that we do all we can to put things right, to satisfy the client and demonstrate our willingness to help.' Arguably, this is also what the complainant wishes. After all, an early apology and acknowledgement that things were not as they should have been, enables both parties to resolve the issue with dignity.
Forcing a complainant to pursue his complaint ad nauseum, pulling down the shutters and covering up abuses merely encourages a 'trench warfare' situation. In the event that the complaint is eventually upheld by an external organisation, not only has the complainant (often the patient) been obliged to endure a significant period of additional and severe stress, the Trust hardly benefits by way of reputation.
Perhaps David Peat should design an complaints handling course?
Carolyn May, health scrutiny officer, Devon County Council