We are leading on a project alongside Mid Staffordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (Mid Staffs), Pilgrim Projects and the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcomes and Deaths (NCEPOD). The project is funded by a grant from the Health Foundation please click here.
After the failings in 2009 at Mid Staffs, the Trust has become the subject of intense local, national and international media scrutiny into what has been described as ‘the biggest scandal in the NHS’. The trust faces a considerable challenge to improve the quality of care it delivers, and to rebuild trust with its local community. It approached the Patients Association to discuss the possibility of working together, and agreed to be a partner for this project focusing on complaints.
This project seeks to enable complainants to have their voice heard, and to support trusts to translate that voice into genuine improvements in care. It sets out to do this through four activities:
1. Making the complaints process as positive as possible for individuals, by employing Patient Champions to play a lead role in complaints handling. They will be senior figures recruited from outside the trust – ideally from the local community – to encourage transparency and independence and reduce the current inequalities. Led by a senior nurse, they will deliver a Complaint Support Service that will provide complainants with a clear judgement as to whether their complaint was handled appropriately or not.
2. Improving the independence, rigour and validity of complaints investigation through regular sample reviews of complaints handling – peer review panels consisting of magistrates, clinicians, community members and complaints managers will convene every quarter to review a sample of complaints and how they were handled by the Trust.
3. Ensuring that learning from complaints is harnessed and used to improve future care. It will do this by working with Pilgrim Projects to help some complainants record ‘patient voices’ – reflective digital stories of patient care that will be a key factor in helping the trust understand the ways in which it did not get things right, using narrative as well as data to bring the issues to life. These will be developed into presentations with supporting material to highlight key issues and will be used in teaching seminars for doctors and nurses.
4. Assessing the quality of the complaints handling process at the Trust by introducing a complaints survey – this will be given to all patients/carers who make a complaint. The results will be benchmarked against other hospitals who have agreed to be part of a benchmarking group for this project.
Progress to date:
- Complaints Support Service - we are currently supporting a number of complainants, some of which who have very complex complaints which not only span more than one organization but they also span different sectors e.g. primary care and social care. We have sourced specialist clinical support where appropriate to assess the robustness of the Trust’s responses to these complaints. We are in discussions with local commissioners to see whether this service would be a valuable addition to their new Healthwatch contract.
- Peer Review Panels – to date we have run 6 peer review panels, and our last 4 panels included a review of cases from other hospitals. Please click here to download the results of our first panel sessions at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust in October 2011. The results of our second panel held in January 2012 can be found here. In April we reviewed some more cases and a summary report can be found here. In July and October we reviewed further cases and the report is due to be published shortly.
- Digital Stories – we have recorded 4 digital stories to date, which will be used in educational and training settings at the Trust. We now plan to try and capture some staff stories-what is it like to be the subject of a complaint? The stories already completed can be viewed here.
- Complaints Survey – we currently have 10 Trusts actively using the survey.We have established a benchmarking group for participating Trusts, which is a valuable forum for discussing the data, sharing learning and promoting improvement. We are in discussions with commissioners to see whether this is a tool that could feature in their healthcare contracts / QIPP programme with hospital trusts. The Picker Institute have agreed to be a strategic partner should there be interest in rolling the survey out to a larger number of organizations.
For more information about this project please contact Alex Robinson on 01785 887 870 or firstname.lastname@example.org