STRUCTURE: Staffordshire County Council is planning to introduce a single complaints service for health and social care in the county.

The Engaging Communities Staffordshire initiative has the support of Staffordshire primary care trust cluster chief executive Graham Urwin.

It comes after the public inquiry into Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust heard criticism of the way NHS bodies handle their own complaints.

In remarks made when the public sessions of the inquiry finished in December, chairman Robert Francis QC said he would make recommendations on “the involvement of external agencies in the complaints process and the use of information from it”.

The finer details of how the service will work still have to be worked out, but the council has decided to press ahead after the idea received overwhelming support in a public consultation.

Council cabinet member for adult wellbeing Matthew Ellis said: “At the moment, complaints about healthcare services such as hospitals, health, social care services and GPs are dealt with by the very service being complained about.

“That can’t be right if we want to improve transparency whilst ensuring that information is collated through a single independent body, meaning a more holistic view of services.

“It would avoid things being missed or lost and doing that would provide a better chance of identifying earlier failures in service quality and trends.”