The Patients Association kicked off the annual training event focusing on continual improvement in complaint management by explaining how they support private patients with a range of enquiries and signpost them to ISCAS. The emotional impact on patients on raising a complaint was discussed and about the need for empathy. This theme, which coincided with #EmpathyDay2019, was also picked up by one if the Independent Adjudicators to ISCAS who spoke about how to ensure the patient felt heard in response letters and the importance of a meaningful apology. DAC Beachcroft spoke at the event to emphasise the importance about good quality investigations into complaints and consistency in record keeping. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) explained about how they use information shared by ISCAS to inform inspections and also how patients can share their experiences of care.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) confirmed their remit did not extend to private healthcare and spoke about how they were introducing Early Dispute Resolution (EDR), including mediation, in order to improve the timeliness and outcome for NHS complainants. ISCAS are looking at where mediation would be useful for less complex private treatments as part of their hosting arrangements with the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR). The final speaker from the Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN) outlined the current programme of work headed up by Professor Sir Bruce Keogh to improve assurance relating to Consultants in private healthcare. This would include additional focus on the processes around engaging Consultants through Practising Privileges (PPs). ISCAS welcomed improved standards in this area as they, and the Patients Association, see issues with the PP process as a feature in private patient complaints.
The event was very well attended and excellent presentations on lessons learned were received from Apsen Healthcare and One Healthcare. The day was extremely interactive and on leaving one regular attendee remarked:
This annual event is such good value for money and I always come away with something to take back to help improve complaints management.