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New complaint-busting service launched

PUBLISHED: 09:00 30 September 2001 | UPDATED: 10:36 03 March 2010

A NEW way to deal with complaints and concerns has been launched at Ipswich Hospital, as one of the first of its kind in the country.

Now patients, carers and relatives will be able to get complaints dealt with promptly, face-to-face-with a manager, instead of writing an official and time-consuming letter.

A NEW way to deal with complaints and concerns has been launched at Ipswich Hospital, as one of the first of its kind in the country.

Now patients, carers and relatives will be able to get complaints dealt with promptly, face-to-face-with a manager, instead of writing an official and time-consuming letter.

Just 120 hospitals in the country have been chosen to introduce the Patient Advocacy and Liaison Service (PALS), and in Ipswich it will be headed by two experienced managers.

Helen Peace and Jean Hinsley have pledged to quickly investigate all concerns, in a bid to nip complaints in the bud and stop any problems marring a patients' stay in hospital.

They tackled 41 complaints and concerns in their first two and a half weeks in the role, and were able to help two people who needed information.

The duo are initially covering the service from 11am to 9pm, seven days a week, and the times may be adjusted if necessary.

So when a patient, carer or relative has a concern, the pair can be quickly contacted or a message left.

They also act as "a friend" to help patients through the complaints process, and help staff resolve problems.

Mrs Peace said: "We will investigate and try to solve any concerns within a short space of time. Some may take longer but we will always express the time factor to the people concerned.

"It is a confidential service, and then we ask the person's agreement if we need to talk to the staff involved or enter their concerns on a database, which will help us monitor complaints and change things for the better."

She described PALS as a "power for change at Ipswich Hospital".

But she added: "The ward or ward sister will have a responsibility to respond to complaints too, but patients, carers and relatives often wish to speak to people away from the ward and we will be here for them.

"There will also always be people who want to complain in writing rather than face to face so they will go through the complaints department instead."

She will have to direct some complaints to the hospital's complaints department, and there are also a complaints convenor and a complaints review group at Heath Road.

The modern matron, soon to be introduced on wards, will also be to be a ward figurehead and someone for patients to report problems to.

PALS has only secured enough funding to exist for one year, but hospital bosses are confident it will prove worthy of future funding, and all hospitals in the UK will have to have such a service by April 2202.

Chief executive Peter Morris said: "We expect both the NHS and ourselves will want to continue this service and the issue of funding will have to be discussed with funders in the future."

Chairman Peter Bye added: "This service is a high priority for us, and it is central to what we are trying to do."

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