David Davis secures unanimous cross-party support at the committee stage of his Private Members Bill


David Davis secures unanimous cross-party support at the committee stage of his Private Members Bill

David Davis secured unanimous cross-party support for his Private Members Bill as it successfully passed through its committee stage. The Health Service Commissioner for England (Complaint Handling) Bill seeks to increase the effectiveness of the Health Service Ombudsman, the final tier of the NHS complaints system.

This Bill will ensure that when a complaint is made to the health service that it is answered within 12 months, and that when this is not possible the complainant will be informed of the reasons why. It also introduces a requirement for the Commissioner to report to Parliament annually, creating greater accountability and transparency.

The case that triggered the need for this legislative change was that 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 problems 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 2 years the Ombudsman published their report but accepted they had taken too long. This Bill will ensure that the Ombudsman would have to report within 12 months or else the complainants would need to be informed of the reasons for delay.

Speaking after the conclusion of the Bill’s committee stage Mr Davis said:

“This Bill has united MPs of all parties on a serious issue affecting the health service. The Bill has a simple, non-partisan purpose, a purpose that has wide support, from across the house and even from the Health Service Ombudsman herself.

The experience of the Morrish family, who have campaigned tirelessly so that catastrophic errors will not be repeated, showed the complaints process in the NHS to be slow and insensitive to the needs of patients and their families. The accountability of the Ombudsman was severely lacking and this Bill will go some way towards ensuring that such tragedies are avoided in the future.

I hope that this Bill will be just the first step in a series of reforms to improve this whole area of healthcare.”