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Research by the Patients Association shows that the NHS’s complaints system is not fit for purpose and is putting lives at risk.

The report ‘Listening and Learning’ provides a sombre warning that the lessons of previous reports into healthcare and complaints have not been heeded says the report.

It accuses some hospitals of dangerous complacency for not having implemented a series of recommendations and official advice aimed at improving the health service’s much criticised way of handling complaints.

Research by the patient group shows that many staff do not receive enough training in how to deal with complaints, and that hospitals do too little to help patients raise concerns and do not see complaints as opportunities to improve.

The NHS constitution says that complaints should be dealt with effectively. But the association has found that many hospitals have not implemented all the recommendations for handling complaints from the first Stafford inquiry in 2010 or advice from official bodies such as the Care Quality Commission NHS watchdog and the NHS Ombudsman.

“The Patients Association has identified key challenges for the NHS as the ongoing flaws in the current system are revealed” said Katherine Murphy the Patients Association’s chief executive.

The report comes as the NHS braces itself for the publication next week of a report of the public inquiry into appalling care at Stafford Hospital which contributed to the deaths of up to 1200 patients between 2005-2009.

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