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NHS complaints review set to report

Source BBC News@

Ann Clwyd MPAnn Clwyd has criticised some nurses for the care and compassion they gave to her late husband

A government-backed review into how the NHS in England handles complaints is set to publish its conclusions later.

It was led by Labour MP Ann Clwyd, who broke down in a BBC interview last December while describing the poor care her late husband had received.

She was sent more than 2,000 letters and emails from people describing similar complaints during the process.

The report comes as the health ombudsman calls for a 24-hour advice service for unhappy patients.

Writing in the BBC News website's Scrubbing Up column, ombudsman Dame Julie Mellor said: "Too often we hear of patients not having the confidence to raise a concern on a hospital ward.

"They fear they won't be listened to or taken seriously.

"Even if they do complain, they can find NHS organisations defensive rather than open to feedback."

She says patients and carers should be able to access advice on how to raise a concern "24 hours a day, seven days a week", and that "every patient, carer and relative would have the opportunity to raise an issue in person, by email or over the phone".

'Like a battery hen'

The review into NHS complaints handling was launched in March this year by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in the wake of the public inquiry into the failings at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust led by Robert Francis QC.

Prof Tricia Hart, chief executive of South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and an adviser to the Francis inquiry, led the review alongside Ms Clwyd.

It was given the task of identifying "common standards" which should be applied to complaints handling, and how information could be used to improve services.

Ms Clwyd broke down during an interview on BBC Radio 4's World at One programme in December 2012 about the care her husband Owen Roberts had received before his death a few months earlier.

She said he had died "like a battery hen" at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

Ms Clwyd, Labour MP for Cynon Valley, described the "coldness, resentment, indifference and contempt" of nurses who treated her late husband.

At the launch of the review, she said: "We all hope that when we go into hospital the care we receive will not give us cause to complain.

"However when something does go wrong, it must be easy for patients and their carers to speak up, without fear.

"I am determined that the result of this review will be a system that ensures that any complaint or concern that patients or whistleblowers make will be listened to and acted upon."

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