Welsh Government
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Health Minister seeks views on regulations for better ways of handling NHS concerns

Draft regulations have been published which will make it easier for patients to raise concerns if they are dissatisfied or if things go wrong with their NHS care.

The Welsh Assembly Government wants to introduce a simpler process which will improve the way health organisations deal with concerns.

Under the proposed new system there would be more support and advice for patients and staff, as well as better training for those who investigate incidents.

There would also be a named individual who would be a patient’s point of contact throughout an investigation.

The regulations draw on a range of powers available to Welsh Ministers, including those set out in the NHS Redress (Wales) Measure 2008, which was given Royal Approval in July 2008.

Health Minister, Edwina Hart, said:

“Every year in Wales, thousands of patients receive high-quality, safe and effective treatment and are completely satisfied with their care. However, there will be times where things do not go as well as we would wish, despite best efforts and procedures to minimise risk.

“When things do go wrong, one of the biggest problems facing people who want to raise a concern is that they often don’t know how to. Some people make a complaint while others may consider taking legal action.

“Patients should be able to raise concerns openly and know that lessons will be learned by the organisation and that they will get the help and support they need or compensation, if appropriate.”

The proposed regulations have been developed as part of the Putting Things Right project which was established to examine the existing processes for the investigation of patient safety incidents, complaints and claims.

Views on these proposals will now be gathered during a public consultation, which ends on 2 April 2010.

Tina Donnelly, Director of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales, said:

"As a former member of this project group, I welcome this review and I am looking forward to reading the proposals in detail and getting opinions from our members in Wales. Nurses are at the forefront of patient care and know the value of ensuring that concerns are handled in an effective and efficient manner.  We are hoping for a system that is both fair for patients and staff."

Dr Richard Lewis, Welsh Secretary of BMA Cymru Wales, said:

"I am pleased that the Welsh Assembly Government has decided to act upon the recommendations made from the Putting Things Right project.

"BMA Cymru Wales welcomes the review of the way in which concerns are handled, and hopes for a system which is fair to both patients and staff alike, which will provide effective redress when things go wrong. I look forward to reading the full details of these proposals."

Hugh Williams, Deputy Chief Executive, AvMA (Action against Medical Accidents) said:

“These proposals are an exciting initiative.  If implemented they have the potential not just to ensure concerns are speedily and thoroughly investigated but also to prevent mistakes being made in the future.”

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This consultation seeks your views on the way that health organisations deal with people’s concerns about the health service.
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