David Davis’ Bill to improve complaints process in the health service successfully passes third reading


Today, the Health Service Commissioner for England (Complaint Handling) Bill passed its report and third reading stages in the House of Commons. The Bill will now proceed to the Lords.

The Bill seeks to increase the effectiveness of the Health Service Ombudsman, the final tier of the NHS complaints system, by ensuring that when a complaint is made to the Health Service Ombudsman that it is answered within 12 months. In the event that this is not possible the complainant will be informed of the reasons why. The Bill also introduces a requirement for the Commissioner to report to Parliament annually, providing greater accountability and transparency.

The Bill was proposed in response to the case of Sam Morrish, a three year old boy who tragically died after a series of errors made by multiple organisations that led to him not receiving vital treatment.

Two investigations by the Ombudsman failed to identify the problem that led to Sam’s death. The process was deeply distressing for the family who were left frustrated by officials’ failure to understand the case. After two years the Ombudsman published their report but accepted that they had taken too long.

In response to the Bill completing its Commons stages David Davis said:

“I am delighted that this short and simple but important piece of legislation, which addresses a serious issue affecting the health service, has made such excellent progress. It is especially pleasing that MPs from across the political spectrum have come together to ensure that this issue was given the attention it deserves.

The debate was thoughtful and productive. While none of the amendments proposed were put to a vote they contributed to the wider debate about reform of the Ombudsman service as a whole, and I trust that the Government will pay due attention to the points raised when they come to consider further reforms.

This Bill will go some way to ensuring that tragedies like those of the Morrish family are avoided in the future, and lessons and experiences from such failures are learned within our health service.

This Bill will now pass to the House of Lords for consideration and I hope that it progresses there as smoothly as it has in the Commons.”