NHS England and Improvement have announced changes to the NHS’s complaints process during the coronavirus emergency.

Individual NHS organisations are being told to ensure complaints are still taken, and monitored for patient safety issues. However, NHS organisations are being given latitude over whether they launch full investigation processes in the short term, and being advised to ‘manage expectations’ about investigations being launched. Complaints that are logged will remain open until further notice.

The advice to NHS providers also says that where patients have been waiting over six months for a resolution to their complaint, consideration should be given now to making an effort to see if the complaint can be resolved.

Similarly, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman is reducing its complaints-handling activity during the emergency period. It is not accepting new complaints, and its helpline is temporarily closed. If and when the helpline reopens, it may only be to offer advice, not to accept new cases.

Investigations that require contact with the health service or clinical advisers will not be progressed for the time being. This is in order to maximise the capacity available within the NHS, and enable PHSO’s clinical advisers to return to hands-on clinical work.

As PHSO’s offices are now closed, they cannot receive post. Any post that arrives will be stored securely. The PHSO website has more information.

If you wish to report a concern about your care, you can still report it to the CQC under their Declare Your Care scheme, which remains open. You can go to them direct, or do it via our helpline.