asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) whether he is satisfied that staff in National Health Service mental hospitals are able freely to complain about any ill-treatment of patients; and if he will make a statement;(2) if he will amend the new health service complaints procedure (HC (81) 5) to include guidance to mental hospital staff on how to make complaints on behalf of patients;(3) if he will issue a circular to district health authorities concerning the development of procedures for handling complaints made by mental hospital staff about standards of patient care and recommend that the details of the circular should be available to all staff;(4) if he will issue a circular to district health authorities about the development of appeals procedures for the use of staff dissatisfied with the way that complaints on behalf of patients have been handled.
About a year ago the Department discussed the matter of staff complaints procedures in mental hospitals with regional administrators and regional nursing officers. Administrators were asked to satisfy themselves that there are agreed and understood procedures for such complaints in their regions.It is vitally important that all staff—whether they are employed in mental hospitals or not—should have open to them known avenues for complaints. I know that this is the case in some areas, but the Department is still receiving replies from regional health authorities as a result of the meetings last year and the picture is incomplete. When they have all been received we shall consider whether any further action is necessary.