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Thursday 27th October 2016

NHS to learn from complaints

7th April 2008

The Healthcare Commission has urged NHS trusts to use patient grievances to identify problems and to make more apologies when they are at fault.


The NHS provides 380 million treatments annually and is the recipient of about 140,000 complaints. The Healthcare Commission will look into those cases where a patient is not satisfied with the trust's reply.

The Commission's Spotlight on Complaints report was released on 7 April. It revealed the main topics raised by patients were abrupt GP appointments, lack of nursing treatment, inadequate communications and not enough available aid for mental health issues.

The report includes 10,000 complaints which were subject to an independent review by the Healthcare Commission during August 2006 to July 2007.

During this time, the Commission sent back 26% of complaints to trusts so they could take "further action" - a fall from 33% in the year before. It upheld nearly 20% in the complainant's favour, increasing 8% from 2005-2006, and upheld 18% in the trusts' favour.

The most frequent complaints were about safe and effective practice. Almost a quarter (24%) of the complaints related to this issue, with the second most frequent complaint relating to patient information and communication.

The report said trusts needed to admit their mistakes and apologise when it was relevant. The Commission estimated that it advised trusts should apologise in around 23% of reviewed cases.

Anna Walker, the Commission’s Chief Executive, said: “It is often a distressing and frustrating time for patients who feel they haven’t received the care they deserve. It is striking that so many people simply want an apology and steps taken to ensure the problem is not repeated."

“Trusts need to improve their own complaints handling."

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