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Monday 18th June 2018

Complaining is not improving NHS

10th October 2008

A public spending body watchdog has found little evidence that complaints are leading to service improvements in the NHS.


The National Audit Office (NAO) also indicated that lessons which could be learned from complaints to the NHS are being ignored.

However, its survey also found that most people who were dissatisfied with their care did not bother making a formal complaint.

The government is planning changes to the complaint system, which is similarly structured across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

They also face similar problems and criticisms in that each system can be complicated and take too long to deal with problems.

The NAO said this position remained and that there was no guarantee that if anyone did complain that it would lead to a better service for others.

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee oversees the work of the NAO and its chairman Edward Leigh said: "Complainants are often confronted with a defensive and unhelpful response when sometimes all that is needed is a simple apology or a promise to improve services."

He said the report suggested that achieving a "properly functioning system" which gave the public confidence that complaints would be effectively dealt with, was not going to be an easy task.

The Healthcare Commission said that too often NHS trusts did not systematically learn the lessons from complaints.

NAO head Tim Burr said: "There is a lack of learning from complaints, and providers are not making clear to users that services are being improved as a result."


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