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Volume 458: debated on Thursday 15 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information is made available to (a) patients and (b) patient groups on their rights to complain to strategic health authorities about the performance of primary care trusts; and if she will make a statement. (111749)

No information is made available to patients or patient groups specifically about complaining to strategic health authorities about the performance of primary care trusts (PCTs). Where a patient or patient group wishes to complain about a primary care trust, they should address their complaint directly to the PCT in question.

Responsibility for dissemination of information about complaints at local level rests with the local national health service organisation. Under Regulation 20 of the national health service (Complaints) Regulations 2004, each NHS body must ensure that there is effective publicity for its complaints arrangements. These regulations require NHS bodies to establish and operate complaints procedures with a view to securing a speedy resolution at local level. Where complainants are not satisfied with the result of an investigation at local level, they may request the Healthcare Commission to consider their complaint.

The Independent Complaints Advocacy Service (ICAS) was established to support patients and the public wishing to make a complaint about their NHS care or treatment. ICAS aims to ensure complainants have access to the support they need to articulate their concerns and navigate the complaints system, maximising the chances of their complaint being resolved quickly and effectively.