The Department of Health has just published clarification on the Local Authority Social Services and National Health Service Complaints (England) Regulations 2009. The guidance can be accessed here.

The 2009 Regulations lay down the framework for the complaints handling procedure for all NHS and adult social services organistations.

The Department of Health has advised that where a complaint is addressed to the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS), the framework contained in the 2009 Regulations should still be followed. Organisations should not assume that PALS only deal with information, clarification and concern and advise that any complaint made to PALS should be recorded. The Department has further clarified that the 2009 Regulations must be applied by NHS and adult social services organisations when dealing with a complaint.

The Department of Health has also advised that records must be kept of all complaints that are made, irrespective of how they are handled in each organistation and how long they have taken to resolve.

The Department of Health has also issued guidance on dealing with complaints, where a complainant has expressed an intention to take legal proceedings or the police are involved.In such cases the complaint should continue to be investigated unless this would prejudice subsequent legal action.

In such circumstances, it is good practice for discussions to take place with the relevant authorties, for example, legal advisors/NHSLA, the police or the Crown Prosecution Service to determine this issue.

Where a complaint cannot be resolved for this reason, the complainant should be advised of this and given an explanation