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Thursday, December 02, 2010

13% increase in written complaints about NHS and community services

The Patients Association reports a rise of over 13% in the number of written complaints about the NHS and community services, and Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive, deplores "stories of neglect, misdiagnosis and a distinct lack of care and compassion," and states that the number of complaints between 2008/9 to 2009/10 rose from 89,139 to 101,077, and that this is certainly a massive underestimate of the number of people who actually want to complain. She says, "We need a fundamental review of the complaints process. As a first step every person that makes a complaint should be asked to rate the response and that information should also be published. That will also enable us to pick up those Trusts making no effort to learn. At a time when the NHS is facing budget constraints, we want to make sure that the quality of care patients receive is not compromised and that staff and management become more open and more accepting of complaints and respond constructively when something goes wrong."

A previous Chair of the Patients Association told me years ago that she did not know of even one case of a complainant being satisfied with the response to their complaint. My own experience of the NHS Complaints Procedures is that the complainant is actually punished for making the complaint, and nothing at all is done to help the complainant or to prevent appalling treatment from happening again. Indeed, that the healthcare staff complained about are routinely protected from censure or sanction, ensures that poor treatment will be repeated.