The House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee published its latest report about complaints on 14 April 2014. It concludes
82. The exposure of the failure of Mid Staffordshire Hospital, the Mid Staffordshire NHS Hospital Trust and of NHS leadership to hear both the complaints of patients and their families, and the complaints of their own staff, defines what must change in the leadership of the NHS and its component parts. This also has lessons for Whitehall and public services. Good complaints handling ensures that individuals achieve fair and swift redress, and creates systematic improvement. It also encourages citizen engagement with service providers. Complaints become a positive dialogue rather than a negative dispute.
83. As so often in our reports, we highlight that success depends on the right leadership. Government must to ensure that leadership of public services values complaints as critical for improving, and learning about, their service. Only if the leadership adopts a positive attitude toward complaints will all parts of the service adopt the same attitude with those they lead and with the public they serve. To achieve this change is a difficult but vital challenge, and one that must be addressed now if we are to avoid what PHSO referred to as the “toxic cocktail”—a reluctance on the part of citizens “to express their concerns or complaints” and a defensiveness on the part of services “to hear and address concerns”—poisoning efforts to deliver excellent public services.
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