NHS has to learn

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The criticism by the Scottish 
public services ombudsman (SPSO) Jim Martin of how the NHS handles complaints (your report, 16 January) is merely the last in a long line of critical 
reports over the past 30 years, usually by the Audit Commission.

Unfortunately, the culture of poor complaint handling is endemic throughout the NHS and is symptomatic of the culture of institutionalised arrogance.

The NHS needs to adopt a culture of “maximising learning” from each and every complaint so as to help improve the service provision.

Instead it chooses a path of “denial” and “resisting criticism” of the organisation, no matter at what cost to the complainant.

In psychology, we have the concept of “correction” which essentially states that if a person or organisation “corrects” an error or mistake they will learn from the mistake and are less likely to repeat the same error.

By denying complaints, the NHS condemns itself to repeat aberrant behaviour rather than learn. The secretary for health and social wellbeing has to ensure that senior NHS personnel see complaints as opportunities (to help improve the service) rather than as problems (criticism of themselves and the NHS organisation).

Neil Sinclair

Clarence Street