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NHS complaints increase

9th November 2012

The NHS in England has been hit by a surge in complaints.

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Words such as “careless” and “insincere” have been used amid concerns over unclear communication, according to health service ombudsman Julie Mellor.

Her report, which says the NHS needs to improve how it dealt with unhappy patients, also highlighted an increase in complaints about independent providers offering care to NHS patients.

The ombudsman’s office received 16,333 complaints in 2011-12, though about 11,000 were redirected to other organisations or back into the NHS complaints system and another 1,000 withdrawn, leaving the ombudsman to investigate 4,399.

There was a 50% rise, from 1,014 t0 1,523, in incidents where the NHS did not acknowledge mistakes in care; a 42% rise in complaints about inadequate remedies (up from 1,163 to 1,655); and a 61% rise in complaints about independent providers (up from 169 to 272).

With continuing complaints over GPs striking patients off their lists, Ms Mellor said here needed to be a change of attitude among family doctors.

She said: “All too often the people who come to us for help are unhappy because of the careless communication, insincere apologies and unclear explanations they've received from the NHS.

“A poor response to a complaint can add to the problems of someone who is unwell, struggling to take care of others or grieving.

“The NHS needs to get better at listening to patients and their families and responding to their concerns.”

The Patients Association said the report made clear that the NHS was still failing to communicate properly with patients and relatives.

 

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