Recommendation 112

Feedback as important as complaints

Patient feedback which is not in the form of a complaint but which suggests cause for concern should be the subject of investigation and response of the same quality as a formal complaint, whether or not the informant has indicated a desire to have the matter dealt with as such.

In many respects, the distinction between a ‘concern’ and a ‘complaint’ is artificial. Both indicate some level of dissatisfaction and require a response. Patients or their relatives will often feel more comfortable in raising a concern than in making a complaint, but a concern may be just as likely to indicate a potential patient safety issue. It is important that concerns and complaints are handled in accordance with the needs of the individual case, and investigated.


Sir Mike Richard’s thematic complaints report Complaints Matter was published in December 2014. It covers acute inspections, primary care, and social care and identifies trends and themes in complaints handling drawn from the inspections done by the Care Quality Commission.

Monitor is in the process of working to further align the well-led framework with the Care Quality Commission’s new inspection regime. The current well-led framework was published in May 2014 and includes a number of references to how boards should use complaints in reviewing their governance arrangements. The framework will be used by NHS trusts, Foundation trusts, Monitor, NHS Trust Development Authority and the Care Quality Commission to ensure consistent standards across the system of how well-led NHS organisations are.

At their 2014 Annual Conference, the NHS Confederation dedicated a session on capturing the patient perspective to improve care. The session looked at good practice examples of organisations effectively gathering and using feedback to improve services and how the NHS can make the most of this invaluable information to deliver patient-centred healthcare.

At their 2015 Annual Conference, the NHS Confederation will have the patient voice and experience as a central theme.