Today David Davis MP’s private member’s bill, the Health Service Commissioner for England (Complaint Handling) Bill, passed its third reading stage in the House of Lords, and is due to receive Royal Assent before Dissolution.
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 all Parliamentary stages David Davis said:
“I has been a worthy endeavour bringing this legislation, which addresses a serious issue affecting the health service, through Parliament.
I am very grateful to Baroness Finlay, who sponsored the Bill through the House of Lords, for all her assistance. The Bill would not have made such swift progress through the Lords without her expertise.
The Bill has progressed smoothly through Parliament as MPs from across the political spectrum have come together to ensure that this issue was given the vital attention that it deserves.
This piece of legislation is part of 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 at all stages of the Bill’s progress when they come to consider further reforms. As it stands, this Bill will go some way to ensuring that experiences like those of the Morrish family are avoided in the future, and that lessons are learned within our health service.
It is rare for a Private Member’s Bill, and especially one so far down the order, to make such progress, so it is extremely gratifying for this Bill to have passed through Parliament.”