Professor Ted Baker, in Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) January update for those working in healthcare, reminds providers and professionals that only NHS-funded patients have the right to take their complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) for an independent review. This includes NHS-funded care that is delivered by both NHS and independent sector providers.
Unfortunately current legislation means that private patients in all healthcare settings, including those treated in the NHS, are unable to escalate their complaint to the Ombudsman. PHSO and CQC both set out these differences in the complaint handling process and signpost private patients to ISCAS. We provide the independent adjudication service to the majority of independent healthcare providers.
However, ISCAS is concerned about the low numbers of NHS private patient units (NHS PPUs) who subscribe to ISCAS. We have been aware of patients treated in NHS PPUs who have been left with no access to an independent review of their complaint.
In his blog Professor Ted Baker states:
“I have previously highlighted the need for an independent third stage complaints review process for private patient units (PPUs) in the NHS. Only NHS-funded patients have the right to take their complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), so private patients using an NHS PPU cannot use the services of the PHSO should they be dissatisfied with the outcome of a complaint they have raised with the trust.
It is important to understand that as well as PPUs, this applies to all other independent healthcare providers, including private cosmetic services and independent ambulance services. If an independent healthcare provider treats a patient who is NHS-funded, that patient can take their complaint to the PHSO. If the same independent healthcare provider treats a patient who is not NHS-funded, that patient cannot take their complaint to the PHSO.”
The ISCAS Code states providers should:
Ensure that the procedure for handling complaints is well-publicised and readily available. For example, Independent Healthcare Providers websites should include information on ‘how to complain…..’
ISCAS considers that all independent healthcare providers and NHS PPUs should be transparent with patients about the route to an independent review stage, when patients remain dissatisfied with the internal complaint handling.
ISCAS continues to work closely with the Patients Association and we have produced a Patients Guide. Organisations, including NHS PPUs, who want more information on subscribing to ISCAS can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.