Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) and Chair of the organisation, Rob Behrens, recently disclosed that there is evidence that some doctors and hospitals are covering up serious mistakes in patient care, despite the Trusts’ Duty of Candour policies.
Behrens told The Times that ‘…he had seen cases of medical records being changed after a death and spoken to doctors who were too scared to speak out about failings in their hospitals.’
This has prompted him to call on ministers to change the law to make the health system more accountable to patients. He raised concerns that; ‘Too many leaders are interested in preserving the reputation of their organisation rather than listening to citizens who have legitimate complaints to make.’ Behrens is aware that the existing culture of defensiveness has to be addressed and changed in order to make any real progress.
During the PHSO’s recent investigations into deaths in Birmingham and Essex, it has become apparent that the current system, which requires the PHSO to have a complaint from a person before they can investigate, is leading to an environment where it is apparent that there is a widespread and ongoing issue that they are unable to investigate simply because they have not received complaints from each of the patient’s involved. He has called on the government to change the law to provide the PHSO wider powers of investigation.
Behrens also revealed that having spoken with doctors; he was warned that there was ‘more to come’ but that they were too scared to speak out.
Here at Graystons, we are hopeful that this change will encourage hospitals to act in a way that promotes honesty and openness, which in turn should improve patient care rather than burying issues which go un-rectified and continue to impact future patients.
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