Association of Community Health Councils for England and Wales

CHC News

A newsletter for community health council members and staff
MPs share CHC concerns about complaints

In its latest report, the House of Commons Select Committee on Public Administration has responded to concerns raised in evidence presented by ACHCEW last November. The report, entitled the Anual Report of the Health Service Ombudsman for 1997/98, makes wideranging comments and recommendations about the Ombudsman's report and NHS complaints procedures. ACHCEW is particularly pleased to see the Committee agreeing with its concerns about the independence and role of coveners, the speed of Independent Review Panels and patient removal from GP lists.

The report notes ACHCEW's concerns about the independence of coveners, recommending that the Department of Health should consider ways of signalling more clearly the independence of the complaints procedure. It suggests that CHCs should help in this by choosing a person to sit on the panel. Clearly, this possible role for CHCs would need careful consideration in the view of the need for CHCs to maintain their independence from the complaints process.

On the subject of the independence of Review Panels, the Committee recomends that there should be a system to monitor their work and that the Ombudsman should have a right to call for the establishnment of a second Panel to rehear a complaint. The report also comments on ACHCEW's report of one complainant being told that the were number 32 on a waiting list for an Independent Review Panel due to problems in getting lay chairs. The Committee recommends that the Department of Health review the procedure for recruiting panel members.

On family health services, the Committee recommends that groups of practices should be encouraged to operate joint complaints-handling procedures and that practices should provide advice to patients on how to abtain the asssistance and support of CHCs.

There are a number of recommendations on the subject of patient removals from GP lists:

ACHCEW's Director Donna Covey commented "We are pleased to see the Select Committee acknowledge the important role that CHCs play in the complaints procedure. Many of the Committee's recommendations reflect the conderns of CHCs and we look forward to working with the Government and Department of Health on any subsequent improvements to the procedure."


In this issue:
Health Bill update and finding out about what MPs are saying about CHCs, page 2
CHCs working for comsumer and community involvement, page 3
a CHC member is angry about restrictions on setting iip new pharmacies, page 4
CHC surveys on mental health care, page 4
preliminary proposals of the Mental Health Act Review, page 5
NHS complaints: from the Ombudsman and an international perspective, page 6
National Survey of NHS patients publishes its first results, page 7
changes to systems for dealing with medical negligence, page 7
health services for older people and nutrition in hospital, page 8


Issue 31, June 1999