The NHS Redress Act 2006 is a piece of framework legislation that will need to be enacted through secondary legislation. The department has continually believed that putting in place the appropriate secondary legislation for this piece of work will require considerable stakeholder involvement to discuss the detail around the working of any scheme. This would mean that any legislation could not be implemented any earlier than at least 2010.
The department considers it is currently more important to embed the general principles of wider redress across the National Health Service—those of apologies and explanations, a spirit of openness, a culture of learning from mistakes and robust investigation—rather than focusing on financial redress only for those cases:
which are of low monetary value (currently envisaged to be under £20,000);which satisfy set principles in tort law; andwhere financial compensation would be appropriate.
The significant and important area of work around complaints reform is currently underway and will be implemented in April 2009. It will lay the general foundations of redress, in its wider sense, across health and social care by:
putting the patient or service user at the heart of any complaints process and ensuring that it will be easier and simpler for people wishing to make a complaint;moving to a more open, accessible, flexible and sensitive approach to responding to complaints;ensuring robust and appropriate investigation;emphasising the benefits of responding to complaints properly to help improve services; andlearning from mistakes.
Once these principles are embedded across health and social care organisations, applying redress measures more specifically to any particular scheme or initiative (such as in the area of clinical negligence) can be considered further.