West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has called on West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to deal with issues and patient complaints by improving the service it gives patients and not simply its process of responding to letters.
Contained within the agenda pack for the CCG Governing Body Agenda held last week, was reference to the ‘significant increases in volumes of MP letters continues to be a strain on the service’ and ‘it was felt that the numbers were unprecedented’.
The number of MP letters are largely determined by the number of patients raising their CCG related issues with Rosie Cooper.
The CCG appears to have no plan in place to cope with this level of inquiry, be it from the MP or from the patient directly. MP Rosie told the CCG that ‘unless you manage to improve your services to patients the numbers of complaints would still be the same and so still need to be addressed’.
One resident in attendance at the meeting commented that they were ‘very fortunate to have such an active MP because in our opinion very few people know what a CCG is’.
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper commented:
“Having only received the agenda pack on the morning of the meeting, I did manage to scan through and see that there seems to be some disappointment within the CCG at the high number of patient complaints received through my office.
“I fully share that disappointment and have written to the Chief Officer asking what action the CCG is taking to improve the service offered by the CCG so that the number of patients who are dissatisfied with the service they provide is reduced.
“I want to know, and I’m sure the public do too, how they are going to improve the service and what targets have been set to reduce this number? There were 63 patient complaints in quarter 3 according to the documents.
“NHS England have recognised the issues that the CCG are having dealing with these patient complaints and have now sought their own assurances and launched a formal review.
“My constituents who are both the patients of and the funders of West Lancashire CCG via their taxes, deserve to be treated fairly and respectfully, and so my sincere hope is that the CCG can respond by greatly improving its service to the people of West Lancashire instead of just complaining.”
West Lancashire CCG Governing Body meeting 21 May 2019 agenda pack can be found here:
Document: Part 1
OPERATIONAL MANAGEMENT SECTION
Integrated Business Report
In terms of performance, the following key points were raised:
• Patients complaints – there have been 63 contacts in Quarter 3, 49 of which were MP letters. It was felt that the number was unprecedented and some issues could have been resolved directly with patients or verbally with the MP office. The MP letters are received at NHS England, Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit, acute Trusts as well as the CCG.
Chief Officer’s update
Review of complaints
11. The CCG follows very similar processes to other CCGs around MP correspondence, via the complaints and PALS team at the Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit (CSU).
12. Rosie Cooper MP issued 186 letters to the CCG in 2018 2019, all of which received a timely response. Rosie Cooper MP has complained to NHSE about the processes for replying to her letters. In order for the Governing Body to assure itself relating to the processes and that it is fully compliant with GDPR regulations, the CCG Audit Committee has commissioned Mersey Internal Audit Agency to carry out an independent external review on how all MP correspondence and other complaints are handled. Any lessons learned from this review will be shared with NHS England, the CSU and the other Lancashire and South Cumbria CCGs that also use the same type of process.
13. NHS England is seeking its own assurance and the terms of reference for their process are currently under discussion.
Integrated Business Report
Patient contacts/complaints for NHS West Lancashire CCG are processed by Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit who report on a quarterly basis. The latest report coves Quarter 4 of 2018/19, period ending 31 March 2019. During Quarter 4 there were seventy-three new contacts, comprising nine patient complaints; forty-three MP letters; a single compliment and twenty PALS enquiries.
The patient complaints were regarding: Continuing Healthcare (three); Hospitals (three); Medicines Management (two) and Corporate Services (one).
Twelve of the MP letters were about Access to Service; eight regarding GP Services; four regarding Community Services; four regarding Commissioning Decisions; four regarding Prescribing; four regarding Mental Health Services; three regarding Dentists; two regarding Corporate Services and two regarding NHS continuing Healthcare.
The twenty PALS enquiries comprised: seven regarding GP Services; six regarding Hospital Services; three regarding Commissioning Decisions and single enquiries regarding Public Health; Commissioning Pathways; Mental Health and Non-NHS Services.
During the Quarter, seventy-eight issues were closed: one compliment, seven complaints, fifty MP letters and twenty PALS enquiries. All these issues being resolved within a six-month timescale.
The significant increase in volumes of MP letters continues to be a strain on the service. To ensure a timely response the CCG has introduced processes to monitor volumes and improve handling times.
Document: Part 2
West Lancashire CCG Clinical Executive Committee
Action and Notes – 16/04/19
Graham Urwin, Regional Director of Performance has requested an external review of the CCG processes for dealing with responses to complaint and FOI letters received from Rosie Cooper, MP for West Lancashire. The Executive Committee insisted that the terms of reference for the review must be agreed with the CCG as there are a number of issues that need to be considered. It was noted that Claire Heneghan and Meg Pugh had already commenced a process review.