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Monday, April 07, 2008

Rising number of serious complaints about the NHS

Number of complaints against the NHS soars

Extract from the Telegraph:

"A growing number of NHS complaints are being upheld amid falling nursing standards and rushed GP appointments, according to a report published today.

The Healthcare Commission, the independent watchdog, investigated more than 10,000 cases last year. Complaints included cases of patients left in soiled bedding and allegations about rude nurses.

The commission upheld 20 per cent of complaints, more than twice as many as the previous year. Almost a third of complaints about hospitals involved lapses in basic nursing care.

Patients reported that they did not receive regular baths or showers and, in some cases, were left for hours in soiled bedding or clothes.

Nurses barged in on patients when they were changing and could be "abrupt" or "sharp" when speaking, making them feel like a nuisance, the watchdog found.

In some cases call bells were left out of reach and elderly patients were not given help with eating.

Patients also complained that they were given revealing hospital nightgowns to wear.

Charlotte Potter, from Help the Aged, said: "It is astounding that 30 per cent of complaints about hospitals concerned lapses in fundamental aspects of nursing care.

"Nutrition, privacy and dignity, and communication should not be optional extras. It is never acceptable to be left in soiled bedding."

Complaints over GPs included claims that they were too busy to spend enough time with patients.

More than 20 per cent of those who complained about GP service said that the diagnosis of their illness had been incorrect or delayed because of the lack of time. Most of these cases involved the eventual diagnosis of cancer.

Patients also complained that GPs withheld full information about their treatment because of fears that they "could not cope"."

Most patients rightly fear being 'punished' if they make a complaint - especially those without relatives to protect them from victimisation or bullying, so the number of complaints is very much an underestimate of the dissatisfaction felt.