A consultation on sharing and publishing information about complaints is currently being held by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. It closes on 10 March 2010.

As readers will know, changes to the NHS complaints system, particularly the abolition of the Healthcare Commission as second stage complaints handler, means that complaints are now escalated directly to the Ombudsman following a failure to resolve at trust level. This, coupled with an increased focus on the importance of information about complaints following events in Mid-Staffordshire and elsewhere has, the Ombudsman feels, given rise in some quarters to unrealistic expectations of the volume and scope of information that the Ombudsman can and will make available.

The Ombudsman’s service is confidential and the Ombudsman is required by law to conduct investigations “in private”. Information gathered for the purposes of Ombudsman investigations can only be disclosed in very specific and limited circumstances. Whilst the Ombudsman needs to protect the privacy of her casework she also wants to share learning – hence the need for the consultation.

More information about the consultation can be accessed here.