DoH faces legal challenge over lack of openness

Published: 3 Jul 2013

The Department of Health faces a potential judicial review if it does not alter key guidance on investigating NHS complaints, which allows NHS trusts to close down complaints investigations if there is a hint of legal action.  A “letter before claim” has been issued to Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt. It warns that unless he agrees to issue changed guidance, it will commence judicial review proceedings in the High Court.

AvMA chief executive Peter Walsh said:

“It is outrageous that after all we have heard about the need for more openness and honesty in the NHS that the Department of Health continues to leave the door open for NHS bodies to use potential claims for clinical negligence as an excuse not to provide a truthful investigation and response to a complaint.  We have turned to the law reluctantly to seek a remedy to this.  Repeated requests to Ministers have so far fallen on deaf ears.  We have taken advice from a leading law firm, Bindmans, and are assured that the existing guidance is unlawful as well as being contrary to stated policy intentions.  We have invited the Secretary of State to reconsider or face legal action”. More