New health and social care complaints system does not go far enough
Posted Friday 7 March 2008
Mental health charity Mind believes that the Government's reforms to the health and social care complaints system are insufficient to address serious complaints on mental health wards. The Government's proposals, which were drawn up partly in response to the Kerr/Haslam inquiry (1), do not go far enough to simplify the complaint process for people with mental health problems.
Mind's Policy Officer Emily Wooster said:
"Given the restricted environment of inpatient wards and the vulnerability of patients we believe that extra steps need to be taken to address complaints. Special measures should be in place such as supporting people with mental health problems to provide good evidence, allowing people to report incidents to an independent third party and offering patients a safe place to tell their story. There must also be more accessible, transparent information about complaints procedures on every mental health ward."
"Victims of crime or mistreatment in hospitals need to have confidence that their complaint will be acted on. Sadly, a culture of disbelief and disempowerment exists on some mental health wards allowing complaints to be ignored and incidents to go unnoticed. There needs to be more than just a change to procedures, we also need to see a change in culture and professional attitudes and this will take serious investment in training and education."
"Mind is also concerned about the reduced role of the Healthcare Commission under the new system and the subsequent increase in complaints that will be referred to the ombudsman. We need to be sure that the ombudsman has sufficient resource to manage these."
(1) The Kerr/Haslam inquiry, which investigated the failure to investigate nearly 50 complaints of sexual abuse by two North Yorkshire psychiatrists William Kerr and Michael Haslam between 1965 and 1989, highlighted the worrying prevalence of sexual abuse in mental health accommodation and the need for a change to reporting procedures.
Notes to editors
Mind is the leading mental health charity in England and Wales. We work to create a better life for everyone with experience of mental distress.
For more information, interviews and a range of case studies please contact Mind press office on T: 020 8522 1743 M: 07850 788514 e: firstname.lastname@example.org ISDN line available: 020 8221 0817.
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