Patients with complaints about NHS treatment are being turned away without a fair hearing, MPs have warned.
The Commons Health Committee, including Black Country MP Valerie Vaz (Lab Walsall South) called for a complete overhaul of the NHS complaints procedure.
In a report published today, they warned that strict rules prevented the Health Service Ombudsman, the official watchdog, from even looking into complaints from patients.
Under the current system, the Ombudsman is barred from looking into any complaint unless she is satisfied in advance that there will be a “worthwhile outcome”.
But MPs said the Ombudsman should be allowed review any complaint which is referred to her.
The inquiry also found that NHS culture was often defensive, with a tendency to avoid confronting problems.
Former Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell, the committee’s chairman, said: “We believe the most fundamental change which is required is a change of culture within the service.”