Most NHS Trusts aren’t following the rules on how patient complaints are dealt with, Healthwatch England has revealed.
Every hospital must report on the number of complaints they receive, the nature of the complaints and what they did to deal with them. However, Healthwatch England figures show that just 12% are meeting these requirements.
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NHS Patient Complaint Reports
Only 16% of NHS Trusts are publishing the required patient complaints reports, while just 38% are publishing details on what’s been done to address patient grievances, according to Healthwatch England.
However, the organisation still believes that much of what is being published isn’t good enough. Indeed, Healthwatch England said lots of the information is “high-level, telling us little detail about what has changed and only stating that improvements were made”.
Why NHS Complaints are Important
According to Healthwatch England, four in five people would be encouraged to raise grievances if they could see where other people’s complaints to the NHS have made a difference.
The organisation therefore believes the NHS should step up efforts to show people what it’s doing with their complaints, and let them see what direct improvements have happened as a result.
Furthermore, it pointed out that staff aren’t empowered to communicate with members of the public on complaints.
Healthwatch England stated that while hospitals must produce a statutory complaints report every year, they’re only required to make it available to people upon request. In addition, it said that hospital complaints staff aren’t often aware of these reports and who can access them.
“This is not just about feeding back to individuals, but ensuring all patients understand how their voice can lead to change,” said Sir Robert Francis, chair of Healthwatch England. “Getting this right will require a mix of local action and national leadership.”
Geoffrey Simpson-Scott, Partner and Medical Negligence Solicitor at Simpson Millar added, “Good clinical governance and the legal obligations give NHS Hospital Trusts the opportunity to investigate the circumstances of adverse incidents thoroughly and to produce decisive evidence before the injured patient even seeks legal advice. Unless full details are published, public confidence in the NHS complaints handling process risks being lost which helps no one.”
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