Most of those who complain about NHS services do not seek financial redress, but do so because they wish to have their concerns and experiences understood and for any failings to be acknowledged and put right so that others do not suffer the same avoidable harm. Where such errors occur, patients and their families deserve to be met with a system which is open to complaints, supports them through the process and which delivers a timely apology, explanation and a determination to learn from mistakes. The current system for complaints handling however, remains variable. Too many complaints are mishandled with people encountering poor communication or at worst, a defensive and complicated system which results in a complete breakdown in trust and a failure to improve patient safety.
The treatment of staff whistleblowers remains a stain on the reputation of the NHS and has led to unwarranted and inexcusable pain for a number of individuals. The treatment of those whistleblowers has not only caused them direct harm but has also undermined the willingness of others to come forward and this has ongoing implications for patient safety.