NHS complaints ‘ignored’

By politics.co.uk staff

Half of NHS patients forced to complain about their treatment are likely to receive an “inadequate response”, a watchdog survey has suggested.

The Healthcare Commission found roughly half of the 8,000 annual complaints required further work after the initial submission because the trust’s response was not good enough.

As a result the biggest single cause of complaint was that a previously complaint had not been properly responded to. This rose as a proportion of the total, from 16 per cent last year to 19 per cent now.

Anna Walker, the commission’s chief executive, said millions of treatments were delivered by the NHS every year and so it is “perhaps encouraging” there are only around 8,000 complaints.

But she added: “It is clear from our wider work on complaints that trusts are not always systematically learning from them and improving their services for the future as a result. They clearly need to do so,” she said.

“It is very important that people feel that they can complain about their NHS trust if they need to and that the trust will respond positively to their complaint and learn general lessons from it.”

Over two in five of the complaints reviewed by the commission originated from hospitals, with 11 per cent coming from GP practices.

Of the cases reviewed in the year to July 31st 2008 30 per cent were upheld, an increase from nearly 20 per cent the year before.