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Annual Report 2014

Foreword by the Director of ISCAS, Sally Taber

Complaints handling in healthcare is under intense scrutiny. In February 2014 the Health Select Committee reviewed progress in handling complaints from patients and the public, as well as concerns raised by staff. In the same month, the Government Response to the Review of the Regulation of Cosmetic Interventions contained proposals for the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) to oversee all complaints about independent healthcare – not just those about cosmetic procedures.

ISCAS successfully defended the right of independent healthcare providers to remain independent. In no less than four meetings, the Health Minister, Dr Dan Poulter, sought to find a means to achieve this, with no clear outcome except that legislation would be needed – years hence. ISCAS recognises and wishes to work in partnership with the PHSO until final agreement is reached.

In November 2014, The Patients Association reported that the Public and Health Services Ombudsman had failed patients and their families. The Patients Association said: ‘we have no confidence in the PHSO to carry out an independent, fair, open, honest and robust investigation.’ This statement risks undermining public confidence in healthcare complaints handling - maybe the NHS is in focus this time, but the criticisms cast a shadow over all those involved in investigating complaints. ISCAS and its member organisations must not cease to strive for improvements in the service we provide to patients and their families.

In 2014, as in previous years, ISCAS have sought, with success, to achieve improvements in the way complaints are reviewed at Independent Adjudication where we have direct responsibilities. We have also encouraged ISCAS members to raise their standards when dealing with patient concerns.

Information Sharing Agreements with regulators Over the course of the past year ISCAS worked with the regulatory bodies: Care Quality Commission (CQC), Health Improvement Scotland (HIS), Health Inspectorate Wales (HIW) and the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) Northern Ireland to agree and implement Information Sharing Agreements. These are successfully in place with the CQC and in the process of agreement with HIW.

These agreements are intended to summarise the arrangements for the investigation of ’concerning information’ by the regulators where they arise from treatment provided in ISCAS member hospitals. In a similar way to the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman, ISCAS already shares anonymised outcomes of complaints which have been managed through its service with the CQC and plans to extend this to the other three regulators. The system regulators in particular now recognise the importance of signposting the public to ISCAS. This further highlights ISCAS as the route to the resolution of complaints against independent healthcare providers.

For 2015, the new statutory ‘Duty of Candour’ challenges providers of health and social care to be frank, open and honest at every stage in their response to patients’ concerns. We must incorporate its principles as an integral part of our safety culture because, if we do, it will greatly improve the way we learn, both personally and organisationally. Then we will be even better at resolving patients’ concerns – and the results will show in the bottom line.


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