4 MARCH 1972, Page 31

S cici aM i es . The decision announced last week by Sir Keith

Joseph to appoint a Health CoMmissioner to look into NHS and hospital complaints is to be welcomed The,artilY ---but not wholly without reserve. t,'"e main points of reservation are these. First, there is to be no question of investigation by the Commissioner of clinical complaints against doctors. That is rlo longer a realistic position, for the clinical, the social, and the consumer interest are now in this age of group Practices, health centres, and confusion between the boundaries of medical and sc)cio-rnedical practice — all confused with one another. The exclusion of complaints r'f clinical error and and malpractice !Presents the last, dying thrust of the doctors, lobby in the Tory party ___. the wave of the future was ushered in by the pwreolconie given the Health Commissioner theve„,_ Posals by Dr Torn Stuttaford, one of few enlightened Tory doctors and. etinately, an MP. The second reservation about Sir Keith's rPericIP°sals is that the new system will still illar Y. patients' complaints, while the o areas of serious mal-hand,ling of the and the hospital service are those in the Patients are least capable of lei tnselves making complaints. Ely, Farhfgh and Whittingham all revealed abuse ,e,,rnental health patients who cannot, by vtis nrntion t, , complain about abuse, while it to s•ril dangerous for junior hospital staff resloPlain on their behalf. The third ce_crvation is about whether a single reauluMissioner, responding to complaints, tholI 3' Meets the need. I would have resght that a National Health Service bde,crorate, touring the hospitals as the rights. insPectors tour the schools, is the of s,answer. Nonetheless, the Secretary briri7te is still to be congratulated on a p p (:,'„1.1 g forward by some time the actual have'i.stMent of a Commissioner. It would t, been easy further to procrastinate. 4' apilianliilivY Poor Income Supplement goes ahead, the t,"i!te is a tendency to emphasise that cerICU-uP level has reached over 50 per ' rerrierdh hat, on the other hand, has to be apOPiiestiegc: is that 48 per cent of ate be._ are rejected. According to 22, the _a_an s written answer of February Ilbst,a„ IlY retir for rejecting a claim form s 44 s-e's' In more than half the applicant he signature has been Isirnantritore information is required by the assurri„ 13ut the proportion of claim olairrian'tus to be abandoned because the asked h for , do not provide information Pis i ave c , is under 5 per cent. Now, I erta eh -IrrlY been highly critical of de\tts_;erne in the Past; the n t. and 1 remain a T ant 4 adherent W of -Nega Negative Income Tax. orkers, Wonder how effectively Workers and especially voluntary social o ,t° Make' ate advising their clients onsocial tiw ri.,Ooas led Nil-0s under the FIS scheme? I am 'l suspect that hostility to FIS stleh that people helping those in assist t°,,,,rlot put forth their best efforts to achetbe.",use Who rnight benefit under the Rove,. lhat hostility is unfair both to the "trent, and to the client. CUStOS