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The Medical Defence Union has come out against the possibility of a new investigation branch for the NHS.
This came as part of their written evidence to the Public Administration Select Committee’s inquiry into NHS complaints and clinical failure.
The Medical Defence Union emphasised the large number of bodies and routes which already exist to look at complaints and called for better coordination between these existing bodies.
The Committee’s inquiry aims to look at the existing systems which are in place and also to consider the possibility of a new investigation body. In doing so it also aims to look at how sectors work as well as looking at what role the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman might have to play in any new system.
Unfortunately, this whole debate risks looking like a discussion for insiders with patients potentially being left feeling confused and unsure as to where to turn.
It’s absolutely true that there are already a number of different bodies which can potentially investigate complaints. Examples of these include the General Medical Council, the Care Quality Commission and the Health and Safety Executive. Clearly better coordination between these bodies can only be a good thing.
But whether it is through a new body or making the current system more efficient, clear and understandable, the top priority should be to address the needs of patients.
Above all, NHS patients don’t want to be treated like just another number in the system or worse still, just another problem. Instead they want to be left feeling not only that they’ve been listened to but also that lessons can be learned for the future.
Of course, sometimes loss or injury might have been suffered and medical negligence compensation may potentially be involved. But at other times, failings may not have had such consequences or loss but patients can still have the need not only to be heard but to be listened to with great care and respect.
Our National Health Service is such a vital part of the well-being of this country that it is in everyone’s interests that its problems are sorted out and patients’ interests and needs are thoroughly and sensitively served.
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