Surrey PALS Project improving complaints acess

Download (PDF 391KB)

Summary of report content

Healthwatch Surrey undertook research into access to PALS as complaints handling was a priority for them. The research involved volunteers assessing information levels on websites and questionnaires completed by local PALS departments.

Overall, they found that Surrey Patient Liaison Services in 2016 are quite different from one another in function and organisation, perhaps as a result of having received little policy attention since their creation in 2002 despite the extensive changes in the healthcare sector in general. There is currently little sharing of good practice or dialogue between PALS from different employers.

Many PALS work more closely with their organisation’s complaints function than was initially envisaged, and many offer a more limited and more reactive service than the 2003 guidelines suggested. Many of the teams and managers spoken to emphasised the importance of patient experience within the culture of their organisation – some of the staff gave examples where PALS feedback had resulted in improvement to patient care. It was felt that more could be done to share this information with the public or wider staff team to help increase awareness of the service.

Volunteers identified a number of barriers that could prevent the public from accessing the PALS service. These included: offices that are hard to find or have restricted access, limited office opening hours and absence of out-of-hours information. They also identified that whilst PALS and Complaints teams offered patients and families clear opportunities to raise concerns, in most cases, there was no similar opportunity beyond the Friends and Family Test to record positive comments as these are normally expressed verbally at point of care and therefore lost.

As a result of Healthwatch Surrey’s discussions with providers, some agreed to implement a number of improvements to support the public accessibility of Health Complaints Advocacy and Healthwatch Surrey.

Would you like to look at:

General details

Report title 
Surrey PALS Project improving complaints acess
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Surrey
Date of publication 
Wednesday, 23 November, 2016
Type of report 
Key themes 
Communication between staff and patients
Complaints procedure
Information providing
Service delivery organisation and staffing
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
Structured interview
How was the information collected? 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Not known
Age group 
Not known
Not known
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
Types of health and care professionals engaged 
All care professionals
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known
What type of impact was determined? 
Tangible impact (not cost related)

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.