This response to a Telegraph article in 2013 accurately describes the way in which the complaint process is deliberately stacked against the complainant at every turn making it ‘corrupt by design’. And this single line captures the problem in a nutshell.
In no other area is one party allowed to have complete control over evidence that might prove the complainants allegation while the other party has to beg for access to information.
Bear in mind that the ‘one party’ which has complete control is the one under investigation.
The problem is the burden of proof.
Comment on Telegraph article 27 January 2013 by “romeolima”
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/heal-our-hospitals/9828966/Stafford-scandal-hindsight-isa-luxury-we-can-ill-afford.html romeolima Today 07:52 AM @nautonnier.
This is a long comment from me but I hope people will read it. I absolutely agree with your sentiment but the problem is the burden of proof. Before the police can investigate, complainants often have to go through a tortuous multi-layered system that allows an internal investigation into an incident by the hospital itself without the complainant or their legal representatives being allowed to question the witnesses. Staff do not have to swear or affirm and their version of events frequently reads like a novel. Notes go ‘missing’ (this is a common event) and staff are ‘helped’ to make statements by their legal department although this is meant to be a process without lawyers on both sides. Hospital legal departments often regard this as a ‘dry run’ of a possible court case and can prepare their defence whilst obstructing the availability of medical data to the police, should they be involved, the complainants and their legal team. There is no organisation of any credibility that can carry out an investigation into an individual complaint even if this is about a patient death. The Ombudsman has proved ineffective and the system is such that the hospital already has prior knowledge of the details of the complaint as the complainant must have already gone through the hospital system prior to reaching the Ombudsman. It’s a terrible catch 22. In no other area is one party allowed to have complete control over evidence that might prove the complainants allegation while the other party has to beg for access to information. Almost all the Incident Reporting Protocols that I have read say that in the event of any incident that all notes, statements etc should be immediately captured electronically but this wealth of material, which cannot be altered, is almost never made available to the complainant. In all cases of death the Coroners Officer would appear to be the proper person to immediately seize and hold originals of all patient records whether paper or electronic while a decision to proceed to an Inquest or not is being made. In my own family’s case, the notes were held at the hospital’s litigation department for nearly six weeks before the Coroner requested a copy. This is highly unsafe as an evidential chain and we have never received all the material requested and are fairly certain that the Police would be told that material was missing and therefore the Crown Prosecution Service could not proceed.