NHS 'gets 3,000 complaints a week'

Hampshire Chronicle: A separate category relates to GP and dental complaints, of which there were 52,703 in 2012/13 A separate category relates to GP and dental complaints, of which there were 52,703 in 2012/13

The NHS in England receives more than 3,000 complaints a week, according to official data.

The total number of complaints, including for family services, was 162,019 in 2012/13 - the equivalent of more than 3,000 written complaints every week.

The figure cannot be compared with the previous year because some GP practices failed to submit data.

When hospital and community health service complaints are examined on their own, there has been a 1.9% rise, from 107,259 complaints in 2011/12 to 109,316 in 2012/13.

The biggest number of complaints in this area were against hospital medical professionals (including hospital doctors and surgeons), accounting for 47.1% (51,462) of complaints. Nursing, midwifery and health visiting accounted for the second biggest group at 22.1% (24,146 complaints). Both proportions were slightly more than in 2011/12.

Of all complaints in this area, more than 51,000 related to treatment, 12,300 were about the attitude of staff and around 11,600 were about communication and information given to patients.

Outpatient delays and cancellations accounted for almost 9,000 complaints while more than 6,000 related to arrangements over admissions, transfers and discharge from hospital. A separate category relates to GP and dental complaints, of which there were 52,703 in 2012/13.

More than a third of NHS organisations (65 out of 150) were unable to provide complete data on GP practices in their area, almost twice as many as the previous year.

"We are unable to quantify how many additional written complaints these organisations may have received," said the report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Health minister Lord Howe said: "Every complaint holds valuable information on how patients feel about their care. Complaints can be the earliest symptom of a problem within an organisation and the NHS should use them to learn from and improve their service. We are collecting more patient feedback than ever before - the NHS has received over half a million patients' feedback through the friends and family test. The number of complaints needs to be seen in context. The NHS treats over a million patients a month and we know that most patients get good care. But in the past there have been issues with individual hospitals' handling of complaints and that's why we asked Ann Clwyd and Tricia Hart to carry out a review of how complaints are handled in NHS hospitals. Their report is due soon."

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