PPU patients can’t take complaints to the top

Private patients in NHS private patient units (PPUs) can make complaints like anyone else – but not to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

Now the Independent Sector Complaints Adjudication Service (ISCAS) has drawn attention to a ‘reminder’ from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), following cases where PPUs wrongly thought they had access to the Ombudsman.

The CQC said: ‘It has come to our attention that there is some misunderstanding about the rights of private patients to take a complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) for independent third-stage review. 

‘Only NHS-funded patients have the right to take their complaint to the PHSO under the NHS Constitution. 

‘Those receiving care or treatment within a private patient unit  run by an NHS trust, who are not satisfied with the outcome of a complaint that has exhausted the trust’s internal complaints process, do not have the right to take their complaint to the PHSO.’

ISCAS director Sally Taber told Independent Pract­­itioner Today: ‘It is an enormous concern to ISCAS that 277 PPUs do not have access to an external review stage for their complaints management.’ 

She said the problem was being considered as part of ISCAS’s work with the CQC arising from the 2020 Paterson Inquiry report, whose Recommendation 6 was: ‘Information about complaints pathways to be communicated more effectively in the NHS and independent sector and private patients to have the right to mandatory independent resolution of their complaint.’