Gosport War Memorial Hospital:
Patients Association expresses shock at
For many years the Patients Association have been listening to people who have lost loved ones through avoidable NHS neglect who report to them on a daily basis the difficulties of pursuing their complaint against a body which uses legal might and a lack of transparency to deny justice and learning. So why the ‘shock’ and why no mention of the role played by the Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) who once again has failed to alert the authorities to a crisis which lasted more than a decade? The Gosport Inquiry will deliver many words and many promises but who will actually deliver the change?
You can read the full Patients Association press release here
The response of PHSOtheFACTS member Nicholas Wheatley can be read below.
Dear Ms Power,
We read with interest your statement about the Gosport War Memorial Hospital scandal and the shock you felt at the number of lives cut short. You state:
“we should pay tribute to the tenacity and determination of the families who stood by their belief that things were not as they should be, even when the NHS was telling them otherwise”
Our pressure group, PHSOtheFACTS, has been campaigning for several years for reform of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, which has been described as not fit for purpose by the Patients Association itself. Many of our members, whose loved ones have suffered avoidable or unexplained deaths, have the same “tenacity and determination”you praise in the Gosport families, and the same belief that “things were not as they should be, even when the NHS was telling them otherwise”.
You also stress “the effects of such serious betrayals of trust, first in the improper care itself and then again in the way the NHS closed ranks against them”Our members have experienced the same betrayals of trust, compounded by the failure of the Health Ombudsman to take their concerns seriously or to investigate their complaints thoroughly and impartially. You will be aware that a number of the Gosport families took their complaints to the Ombudsman and were badly let down when their cases were not upheld.
You state “When patients and their families raise concerns in future they must be properly listened to and given full and open answers”.
Sir Robert Francis QC, President of the Patients Association stated:
“Once again we hear of a lack of transparency which left the truth hidden” and “in future when serious concerns are raised they are properly examined in investigations in which patients and families can play a full part”
Our members are only too aware of the “lack of transparency”, “the truth hidden”, not being “properly listened to” or “given full and open answers” in the complaints process.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman is the final tier of the complaints process and yet it fails hundreds of complainants every year by failing to investigate their complaints properly or to take their concerns seriously. We believe that it is of vital importance that the Ombudsman is reformed so that it becomes a service that acts on behalf of the public to hold public bodies to account. The existence of a properly functioning Ombudsman would represent a major step forward in patient safety. No Trust or doctor currently need fear the threat of “taking a complaint to the Ombudsman”. That must change.
Since the resignation of your predecessor Katherine Murphy, the Patients Association has ceased campaigning for Ombudsman reform and has also ceased to engage with us or indeed to reply to any of our requests for help. If you are indeed serious in your comments about the failures at Gosport War Memorial Hospital and the associated investigations, then please let us know that you will be willing to help us in our campaign for Ombudsman reform. It may help prevent a repeat of the terrible events at Gosport.
This letter will be published on our website and we look forward to your reply.