It is not for the government to advise individual MPs on the systems they employ to identify the wider significance of individual complaints about health and care services. That said, the Department of Health recognises the invaluable insights which can be gained from letters written to MPs. Without wanting to suggest to MPs how they handle their own business, the Department of Health would be willing to highlight the scope – for MPs who desired it or believed it appropriate – to identify themes and patterns in complaints by sharing correspondence with regulators (for example the Care Quality Commission , NHS Trust Development Authority and Monitor) using informed consent, and to gain intelligence about patient experience in their constituency’s health and care services by building strong relations with their local Healthwatch organisations. The Department of Health would be willing to work with regulators and any interested MPs – while respecting their position as elected office holders – to share best practise and advice.
Accepted in principle
MPs are advised to consider adopting some simple system for identifying trends in the complaints and information they receive from constituents. They should also consider whether individual complaints imply concerns of wider significance than the impact on one individual patient.