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10.02.16

Nearly two-thirds of NHS complainants unhappy with outcome

Nearly two-thirds of complainants to NHS organisations were not happy with the treatment their complaint received, according to new research.

The Complaints Survey, distributed by the Patients Association and the NHS Benchmarking Network, found that 60% of complainants from October to December 2015 said they were not happy with the final response received.

Only 25% of complainants felt their complaints were handled well, and just 38% thought their complaint was dealt with quickly enough.

Almost half of complainants added they were concerned that they might receive lower-quality care if they made a complaint.

The Complaints Survey was piloted at Mid Staffs and at five other NHS trusts, and is now distributed to organisations who opt-in. It was distributed to 25 organisations in areas including community, acute and mental health care, and to patients whose complaints were deemed closed.

A 2014 Healthwatch England report found that most NHS patients who complain never get an apology, and 80% said they had to complain more than once before someone listened to them.

And just last year, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman claimed that poor complaints handling by the health service has "serious human costs", including potential avoidable deaths, inadequate end-of-life care and poor pregnancy and maternity care. 

Approximately 80% of the Ombudsman’s investigations were about the NHS and 20% were about UK government departments and their agencies. But almost half of complaints about the NHS in England were about (or partially about) dissatisfaction in how complaints were handled.

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