NHS managers Should Support Staff When Concerns Raised, Ombudsman Warns.

23 January 2014

NHS managers Should Support Staff When Concerns Raised, Ombudsman Warns.

So that frontline NHS nursing staff can be confident in raising concerns about care without fear of managerial reprimand, the health service ombudsman has warned that senior management must support the raising of such concerns and provide strong leadership.

Frontline staff must have the support of senior managers if they are to feel confident enough to raise concerns about care, the health service ombudsman has warned.

The ombudsman investigates allegedly poor or unfair treatment under the NHS after individuals raise compaints about service received. Dame Julie Mellor was speaking at an NHS England organised 6CsLive! “week of action” event looking at how health services could work better with people to encourage improvement in care.

“Often staff are too scared to acknowledge mistakes because they think it will lead to disciplinary action  This has to change,” Dame Julie.

“Only strong leadership from boards which encourages staff to raise concerns will lead to improvements on wards that we all agree the NHS needs,” she added.

Dame Julie has published an annual report looking at the different themes in the nature of complaints that arose from the NHS in the last year as well as reports focusing on certain areas, the most recent one being on the supervision of midwives. A focus on her speech was on encouraging better patient outcomes and that engaging staff to aid in this was extremely important.

A major insight that she provided which Mistreatment.com has often found when speaking to patients as well was that they wanted their concerns to be dealt with as and when they were raised accompanied with an explanation that addressed their concerns. Dame Julie made it clear that senior managers and boards needed to support the staff to encourage this kind of transparency.

“By listening to patients, staff have an opportunity to put things right. Sometimes it’s the small things which staff do or don’t do which makes a difference,” she said. “But frontline staff can’t do this alone, there needs to be a cultural shift in organisations from ‘whose fault is it’ to ‘how can we learn and improve’.”

Mistreatment.com often hears from patients who have complaints about their NHS care and the fact that they were not listened to. Dame Julie affirmed this in her speech saying that the NHS could make a “real difference” if they listened more from complaints.

 “Complaints are often the first warning sign to show that something is wrong, and a failure to listen and learn can have devastating consequences,” she said.

Complaints were rising according to Dame Julie as she noted that her office was taking on more investigations, in response to public feedback calling for more independent judgements after initially complaining to hospitals and getting no response.

 “We… try to spot when there are trends in complaints, such as our recent reports on sepsis  and midwifery supervision,” she said. “We share our findings with organisations to help them make public services and the complaints system get better.”

Mistreatment.com has realised the growing trend of sepsis and undertook an exclusive interview with the chief executive of the UK Sepsis Trust which can be read here.

Mistreatment.com was created to listen to talk to people who feel that they had nobody at the NHS to listen to them when something went wrong. Members of the public who call through to us often want to raise an issue within NHS care so that somebody else is not affected the way their and their loved ones have been. Sometimes they call through to us to make a medical negligence claim because a financial settlement is needed to rebuild their life and to take care of their family. If you have experienced a form of medical mistreatment through emergency services, A&E or through surgery, for example, you can speak to the experts at Mistreatment.com