North-East chief executive to look at how hospitals handle complaints

THE Prime Minister has asked a hospital boss from the North-East to review how patient complaints are handled across England.

Speaking after the publicaton of the Francis Report - into the Stafford Hospital scandal - Prime Minister David Cameron said complacency in the system has meant that "all too often patient complaints have been ignored."

Mr Cameron has asked the chief executive of South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - Professor Tricia Hart - to advise how hospitals in the NHS should handle complaints. She will be assisted by Labour MP Ann Clwyd.

Professor Hart was one of a small team of assessors appointed to work alongside the barrister who chaired the inquiry, Robert Francis QC.

As a result she has attended hearings, parts of hearings, prepared reports and provided advice over the last three years.

Prof Hart said: "I welcome the opportunity to be involved in this review - patient complaints are a crucial measure of the quality of care hospitals provide and help us to put in place measures to stop the same mistakes from happening again,"

"We need to ensure we have a system which supports that and truly puts patients and staff who voice concerns first."

Speaking of her own trust, Prof Hart said: "We have a 20-year culture of focussing on openness and service improvement and looking at how patient safety and the overall patient experience can be continually improved upon.

"However we are not complacent. We know we have more to do at every level of the organisation. From the board to wards, departments and community teams, we need to reflect on the findings of the report and how we are going to achieve our vision of being not only the safest trust across the North-East but the safest in the country."

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