Skip to content


Hearing those seldom heard – improving access to the complaints process

Making a complaint about NHS care is difficult. By offering a digital solution we want to make it easier for people to share their story and hear those seldom heard.

Read comments 14
  • Winning idea
  • 2022

Meet the team


  • Gill Bailey - service user representative
  • Elaine Roberts - service user representative
  • Anastasia Lungu-Mulenga
  • Ophelia Watson
  • Aishea Buckle
  • Drew Bradley
  • Lorna Thomas
  • Kevin Borrett

What is the challenge your project is going to address and how does it connect to the theme?

We all know it is notoriously difficult to make a complaint about  the NHS; it’s also a really emotionally challenging thing to do. People who use our community and mental health services have asked us to work with them to make it easier to raise a concern, and  to see how the review of their complaint is going.

Young people with complex physical and/or mental health needs and people from minority ethnic groups experience greater health inequalities than many others. The way we currently ask them to make a complaint puts them off sharing their experience, limiting our learning and opportunities for improvement. We need their specific feedback to improve our services and help improve health equity.

They have told us  that an additional digital option, for example a web based portal, would encourage them to share their experiences and would let enable them to see progress in real time.

What does your project aim to achieve?

The overall aim of the project is to improve access to the process for making a complaint and improve transparency of the review progress  by the development and provision of a digital solution, to supplement the current offer.

The objectives are:

1.       To develop or procure a digital solution in partnership with people from our local communities which allows easy access for people to raise a concern.

2.       To improve access for people from seldom heard communities who are currently underrepresented in those we receive complaints from.

3.       Enable more effective and timely communication with the person who has raised a concern, either self-facilitated by personal log ins, or by ensuring one single point of access for information and progress updates.

4.       Improve our understanding of the experience of care of using services from a broader range of our community, supporting our ambition to reduce health inequalities by facilitating learning and service improvement.

How will the project be delivered?

We will use our established approach of people participation in engagement and improvement.

  1. The project will be based on feedback from people who use our services, ensuring improvements are based on what matters most to them.
  2. The project will be delivered using the principles of cocreation; with patients, families, carers and members of the local community being active partners with Trust teams in project design, delivery and evaluation.
  3. An already established community led complaints improvement group will provide oversight and shape the development of this digital solution, ensuring the focus is on improvements identified by people who use our services.
  4. The Trust Complaints and PALS Team will drive the practical application and testing.
  5. Technical digital support will be provided by the Clinical Nursing Information Officer.
  6. Evaluation will be supported the Solent Academy of Research and Improvement, who have extensive expertise in QI, rapid evaluation and people participation in improvement.

How is your project going to share learning?

  1. We will share the learning through the national Head of Patient Experience Network, the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman national complaints standards framework group, the ICS Community Involvement Network,  and national community engagement and PPI networks.
  2. We will develop a blog – ‘How is it going’ – to provide updates on progress, seeking input from wider audiences to inform and shape the project and test out concepts and tools. This will be posted in the Q Community and the Solent Academy sites.
  3. Our community partners will share with their community groups networks, enabling reach to some of those seldom heard groups we wish this project to support specifically.
  4. We will publish and present at local and national forums.

How you can contribute

  • Shared learning
  • Would be pleased to hear from other how have successfully used web based platform to improve access for people who use services, particularly those suitable for people with additional access needs.
  • Ideas development
  • Feedback on proposal and any other ideas people may have to support!
  • Sharing the idea across social media platforms you use, asking for partners to read and feedback

Plan timeline

31 Mar 2022 Phase 2 complete - full evaluation, report and initial sharing.
23 Jun 2022 Project management group; detailed planning and output measures agreed.
15 Jul 2022 Community conversation 1: solution specification requirements from people who use services
16 Aug 2022 Community conversation 2: solution specification from people who use services
1 Sep 2022 Specification finalised; options proposal and agreement with service users; procurement
1 Oct 2022 Phase 1 Pilot starts and continuous evaluation
1 Nov 2022 Phase 1 - initial evaluation feedback and amendments
1 Dec 2022 Phase 1 continues
19 Jan 2023 Phase 1 review
8 Feb 2023 Phase 2 commence with amended tool


  1. Can your project please include people with disabilities, physical and sensory? I don’t believe ableism is being addressed in many sectors.

    1. Thanks Sarah, your plan covers a lot of ground on inclusion. I like the ABCD way of working for supporting community assets.

    2. Hello and thank you for your comment Alan. We have as part of our core project team people with a learning disability and have access to a network of community partners with physical disabilities, mental ill health and long term conditions as well as those that support them. You may be interested to have a look at our approach to working with local communities - our aim is to be as inclusive as possible.

  2. Fantastic project idea - really well explained and thought through, and it is evident you have service users at the heart of your improvement work. Best of luck with it!

  3. Hi! Your project looks really great, I would love to connect as we are exploring the implementation of a similar concept across our Integrated Care System partner organisations. We are working with Culture Shift, a tech for good company who until recently worked mostly with Universities across the UK. We are also working on improving access and enhancing our current processes to enable people to report and get support for inappropriate behaviours in the workplace (micro-incivilities, bullying and harassment). Looking forward to catching up!

    1. That’d be great. Really committed to the links between positive experience of Care and for those providing it.

  4. This is a great project, and any way to support people having their voices heard can help us learn and improve our services. This is also so important because we know we need to do better to provide accessible services for people from minority ethnic groups. I am really keen to hear more about and to support the voices of young people with health needs from a children and young people's services perspective.

  5. great idea and very well thought out


  6. Such an amazing opportunity to use an approach we are learning really leads to such rich conversations, ideas and amazing connections throughout our wonderful community and really hear what matters most.

  7. This is a really interesting project - supporting users to undersatnd what the process is and being invovled helps demystify and ensure expecations are met.  I think some complainants have a motivation which might not be best addressed by a complaint.  Co-desigining a process which best meets needs of all stakeholders is a real step change.

    One of our team has done some work on pt invovlemetn in complaints and would be pleased to share it

    1. Thanks Kate, it's would be great to hear what your team have been up to & share ideas & experiences

    2. Would be great to hear about your work. Thanks!

  8. Guest

    Faye Prestleton 3 months, 1 week ago

    Fantastic approach - very exciting. I wonder whether there would be space within the project to seek information about other existing models out there that might serve to inform what the project is looking to develop and perhaps help to inform the wider project? Look forward to hearing the outcome. Thanks

  9. Guest

    Really exciting project - critical to engage communities at all levels and to increase equitable access - not just to services themselves but also to have a voice (including complaints).

Leave a comment

If you have a Q account please log in before posting your comment.

Read our comments policy before posting your comment.

This will not be publicly visible

Please note that you won't be able to edit or delete comments once posted.