"My Dad"

(as a relative),

This week there have been three well publicised reports from the Healthcare Commission about hospitals in Stafford, Gosport and Birmingham. Although Alan Johnson and Gordon Brown have made speeches in parliament about these and there have been numerous interviews in the media, I have not seen or heard anything about the Healthcare Commission being abolished

Three years ago my father died in a hospital in West Yorkshire. He was admitted by his GP because he felt he needed to be rehydrated and had severe joint pain. The GPs requests were ignored, he was placed on the wrong ward and was treated like an unwelcome guest. Referrals were lost, treatment was not given, Consultants were on holiday and it took 12 days for me to get to see a Consultant in charge of his care. A catalogue of neglect was recorded in a diary I kept. After his death I complained to the Trust who denied that anything had gone wrong, told me I had wrongly perceived the neglect and made excuses. I was dissatisfied with this result and had the option of taking my complaint to the Healthcare Commission, which upheld my complaints completely. The Trust was required to draw up an Action Plan to address their failings. Unfortunately, although the Healthcare Commission can investigate, uphold complaints and make suggestions for improvements, the Trust concerned is not bound to carry out any suggestions. The third stage of the complaint procedure is the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, but they can only look to see if the Healthcare Commission have done a reasonable job but are also powerless to force the Trust to take action.

On the 1 April 2009 the Healthcare Commission and CSCI will be abolished, these are the bodies to whom relatives can complain if they witness a lack of dignity and respect or neglect. These agencies are far from perfect, they take too long to investigate and when they uphold a complaint they have no power to enforce changes. However once they are abolished on 1 April 2009, anybody witnessing abuse, etc., will have nowhere to go. They will have to complain to the perpetrator through a system described by the NHS as 'local resolution', if they are not satisfied they may in certain cases go to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. In her report regarding the new system, Ann Abraham, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, says that the PHSO will not be handling as many complaints as the Healthcare Commission. The new Quality Care Commission will replace the Healthcare Commission and CSCI but will not be responsible for investigating individual complaints and will rely on an annual report from a new layer of complaints management within Trusts and Providers. If this is true the future looks very bleak indeed for anybody witnessing abuse, neglect and worse. At least the action plan drawn up as a result of my complaint made some changes at Airedale but if I had accepted 'local resolution' nothing would have changed because the Trust told me I was wrong. Even now there are some outstanding suggestions which the Trust have either ignored or tried and abandoned. Nobody cares.

My MP Ann Cryer, has brought an early day motion to the House of Commons asking that concerns arising from complaints are fully acted upon. 39 MP's have signed this motion, 200 are needed to instigate a debate. Only one Conservative MP has signed, Philip Davies MP, Burley in Wharfedale. I would encourage you to contact your MP and support this early day motion as the new complaints system will let people down.

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