The Department of Health has issued clarification on the legal position surrounding complaints handled by PALS in cases where legal proceedings are instituted.

In relation to complaints handled by PALS, the advice provides the following clarification:

  • all complaints to PALS that are not resolved by the next working day need to be resolved as a complaint;
  • written or emailed complaints should be recorded irrespective of how quickly they are resolved;
  • the Local Authority Social Services and NHS Complaints (England) Regulations 2009 (the regulations) must be applied to the handling of such complaints;
  • complaints must all be handled within the terms of the regulations regardless of whether the complaint is addressed to PALS, the complaints manager or another member of staff; and
  • if a complainant has intimated that they are planning to take legal proceedings, discussions should take place with the relevant authorities, for example legal advisors or the NHS Litigation Authority to determine whether proceedings to answer the complaint would prejudice subsequently legal action.

The regulations can be accessed here.