NHS Treatment

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th February 1992.

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Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Education) 12:00 am, 18th February 1992

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what remedies are available to NHS patients or their families to use if they are dissatisfied with the treatment given in NHS hospitals.

Photo of Stephen Dorrell Stephen Dorrell Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

Directions issued under the Hospital Complaints Procedures Act 1985 require all NHS hospitals to make formal arrangements for dealing with complaints and for publicising those arrangements. Under the patients charter, NHS complaints procedures will be extended to all hospitals in which NHS patients receive care.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

May we have an urgent inquiry into why, over the past three years, the number of complaints against the health service in Lewisham and North Southwark has gone up by 100 per cent., why there have been 30 complaints already this year and why serious complaints of maladministration and negligence have been made against Guy's, King's College and St. Thomas's hospitals by my constituents over the past year? Why, even when complaints are made, are they often inadequately dealt with, why is there no compensation and why do people sometimes hear nothing for far too long?

Photo of Stephen Dorrell Stephen Dorrell Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

The increase in complaints may have something to do with the fact that we believe that it is important that if someone has not received the care to which he thinks he is entitled from the NHS, his right to complain should not be a well-kept secret, as has too often happened in the past. A patient's attention should be drawn to the fact that he has a right to complain and we have taken steps to do so. We take each complaint seriously and seek to ensure that every one is properly examined. I look forward to hearing from the hon. Gentleman how he will deal with the complaints that I expect he will receive from his constituents, when he has to explain to those employed at Guy's hospital why the Labour party's policies would deny that hospital the opportunity to increase staff pay by £6 a week.

Photo of Mr John Hannam Mr John Hannam , Exeter

Will my hon. Friend accept the thanks of the House for the award of compensation to those patients who contracted HIV as a result of blood transfusions in the NHS? Will he pass on the thanks of those of us who went to see the Prime Minister two weeks ago to ask for his help in the matter?

Photo of Stephen Dorrell Stephen Dorrell Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his comments. We concluded, after long and careful thought, that it was right to make the change that we announced earlier this week.

Photo of Mr Jack Ashley Mr Jack Ashley , Stoke-on-Trent South

Is the Minister aware that medical accidents constitute a major cause of dissatisfaction? The legal procedure is far too clumsy and hit-and-miss. Cannot we have a proper system of no-fault payments for medical injuries?

Photo of Stephen Dorrell Stephen Dorrell Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

The House debated the issue about a year ago and reached the conclusion, on a free vote, that that issue was not the highest priority call on the NHS budget. I agree with that decision and would not commend any proposal to change it.