A letter from Public Voice Chair, Sharon Grant OBE, has been published in The Guardian in response to the newspaper’s editorial on the Lucy Letby case (18 August). The letters in response are led by Dr Maybelle Wallis who says “the health service’s authoritarian management culture has to change”.

“Almost a decade ago, I was appointed to support the late MP Ann Clwyd in conducting her review of the NHS hospitals complaints systems (see below), in the wake of the Mid Staffordshire calamity.

The report identified a “toxic cocktail”, in which there was a defensiveness on the part of hospitals to hear and address legitimate concerns, a fear of complaining among patients and a lack of trust in the system. Patients witnessed pressure on clinical and other staff to be silent about untoward events. Since then, few of the recommendations of the review have been carried out to improve confidence that complaining is worthwhile and can achieve change.

When the combined pleadings of relatively powerful clinicians, such as those at the Countess of Chester, can be put aside by both NHS trust boards and managers, then what hope is there for patients or their carers who need to complain or raise an alert? The resolution of the issues surfaced by the Letby scandal cannot be left to those who allowed it to happen. It must involve a strong and independent patient voice.”

Sharon Grant OBE – Chair, Public Voice

Review of the NHS Hospitals Complaints System

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