NHS heavily criticised over complaints handling systems

10 July 2014

NHS heavily criticised over complaints handling systems

A new survey has suggested that the NHS must undertake a complete revision of the way it handles complaints, despite piecemeal efforts at improvement.

After the Stafford Hospital scandal the NHS was heavily criticised over its complaints systems and although improvements were steadily implemented, a new poll by Populus, for consumer group Which?,suggests that only 25% of those interviewed were happy with the way their complaint had been handled.

This did mark a rise of 16% from two years ago, but digging under the surface the survey revealed that over 50% of those polled felt their complaint may have been initially dealt with but was later ignored, with 43% saying they were usually “dissatisfied” with the outcome.

“The complaints system needs to be radically simplified”

Many patients found that the current approach to complaints handling taken by hospitals was both unresponsive and unclear, according to a government-commissioned inquiry into NHS complaints last year.

After that inquiry, hospitals were ordered to publish regular updates on complaints and make it clearer to patients what they had to do when they were not happy with their care.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said the survey showed that while initial recommendations from the inquiry were slowly becoming the norm, far more still needed to be done.

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Katherine Rake, chief executive of Healthwatch England, said: "It is simply unacceptable that more than half of people who make complaints still feel like they are being ignored.

"If the health and social care system is serious about driving patient-centred improvement then the complaints system needs to be radically simplified."

Mistreatment.com specialises in guiding members of the public through the most effective routes to complain about medical mistreatment, highlighting all available options available as well as alternative ways to take action.