NHS 'patchy and slow' dealing with complaints
PUBLISHED: 13:00 20 October 2011
THE South West has the greatest proportion of NHS complaints being referred to the Health Service Ombudsmen anywhere in England outside of London it was revealed this week.
More than 1,330 complaints not dealt with at a local level were passed onto the independent body for review, with the majority based on unhappiness at hospital or GP care.
Ann Abraham, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, was critical of the way in which local health authorities were failing to deal with many minor complaints.
She said nationwide responses to problems had been ‘patchy and slow’ after the number of complaints they were asked to investigate increased.
Terence Marks, from Banwell, said he had felt that his complaint after surgery from Weston General Hospital was not dealt with thoroughly and is currently appealing to the ombudsman to review.
He said: “These local complaints procedures are supposed to help the patients with their complaints but it’s all very one-sided. They make you feel like they are helping you but they are doing what is best for the hospital. (My) confidence in what they do is very poor.
A spokesman for the hospital said they were satisfied with the thoroughness of the complaints procedure and was happy to see the number reported drop to 21 from 35 last year.
Nearly half of all complaints referred to the ombudsman this year for the South West were in relation to NHS hospitals.
Liz Redfern, chief nurse at NHS South of England said: “It is important to note that the NHS in the South West treats over 100,000 patients every day and the number of compliments far outweighs complaints.
“However, we would expect all NHS South West organisations to handle every complaint appropriately and in a timely way.”
Nationally there was a large increase in the number of complaints against GPs with 21 per cent of all complaints coming from patients who had been struck off a practice’s list. But in the South West the figure was only 12 per cent.
Health Minister Simon Burns said the NHS was committed to listening to its patients.
He said: “Our ambition is for a modern NHS, which is more accountable for the quality of care it provides and gives patients a stronger voice.
“That’s why we need a culture of learning and listening in the NHS, so that mistakes are not repeated.”
Ms Abraham said in the report that whilst the number of complaints had risen since last year, the majority did not require their intervention because patients had wrongly appealed to them before their local authority.