Welsh GPs Must Prepare For New Complaints Scheme

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GPs in Wales need to appoint a ‘senior investigations manager’ to investigate patient concerns under a new complaints and redress scheme, some of which is due to come into effect on 1 April this year.

The new complaints and redress scheme differs from the current complaints procedure in many ways and GPs will have to comply with specific responsibilities set out in the regulations.

GPs in Wales need to appoint a ‘senior investigations manager’ to investigate patient concerns under a new complaints and redress scheme, some of which is due to come into effect on 1 April this year.

The regulations(1), which relate to ‘concerns, complaints and redress arrangements’ will affect all NHS health services in Wales, and mean patients, their relatives and staff can raise any concern about their NHS treatment or care, including patient safety incidents.

However, the MDU is reassuring GPs that the redress requirements, which come into force on 1 October, do not apply to them. These allow NHS bodies to offer Welsh patients compensation up to £25,000 where there has been negligence.

Dr Sally Old, MDU medico-legal adviser, said:

“The new complaints and redress scheme differs from the current complaints procedure in many ways and GPs will have to comply with specific responsibilities set out in the regulations. For example, each body, including GP practices, will have to appoint a ‘responsible officer’ to oversee the operation of the scheme, ensure any relevant lessons are learnt and sign off the written responses to complaints. There must also be a ‘senior investigations manager’ in charge of investigating concerns. GPs also need to know that they and their staff can raise concerns under the scheme, for example, if there is an adverse incident.

“Patients and relatives will be able to raise concerns direct with the Health Board, rather than the practice, and anyone who remains dissatisfied with a response to a concern will be able to refer it direct to the Ombudsman, rather than needing to go through the independent review stage, as is the case currently.

“We support the principles of this new scheme but are pleased that the compensation requirements exclude primary care and independent providers of NHS care. It was originally suggested that the redress requirement would apply to all NHS services and we objected strongly. It would have caused chaos to include GPs and independent providers in an NHS compensation scheme for low value claims when they are not NHS indemnified.

“We will be producing guidance to help members understand their new duties in responding to concerns, including advice on how to resolve concerns at a local level.”

Further information
(1) The National Health Service (Concerns, Complaints and Redress Arrangements) (Wales) Regulations 2011.

The MDU is a mutual, not for profit, organisation owned by our members who include over 50 per cent of the UK’s hospital doctors and GPs. Established in 1885, 2010 marks the 125th anniversary of the MDU leading the way in supporting and defending our medical members, we were the world's first medical defence organisation. We defend the professional reputations of our members when their clinical performance is called into question. Our benefits of membership include insurance* for claims of clinical negligence and a wide range of medico-legal advisory services.

Contact Susan Field or Dawn Boyall in the MDU’s press office on T: 020 7202 1535/1504, M: 07773 772816, E: fields(at)the-mdu(dot)com boyalld(at)the-mdu(dot)com - the-mdu.com

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MDU Services Limited (MDUSL) is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority in respect of insurance mediation activities only. MDUSL is an agent for The Medical Defence Union Limited (the MDU). The MDU is not an insurance company. The benefits of membership of the MDU are all discretionary and are subject to the Memorandum and Articles of Association.

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Susan Field
The MDU
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