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Watchdog warning to NHS groups over rise in complaints

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 13, 2012

Watchdog warning to NHS groups over rise in complaints

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Healthcare trusts and hospitals across the Westcountry received 450 complaints last year, prompting a warning from the ombudsman that the NHS is failing to communicate effectively with patients and families.

This figure was almost a third of the 1,432 across the Greater South West, which was the fourth highest in the country, according to a new report.

Devon received the majority – 290 across seven NHS trusts, including Plymouth and Torbay – while Cornwall registered 110 across three trusts. The remainder related to the regional strategic health authority and the ambulance service.

The Health Service Ombudsman recorded 16,333 complaints nationwide, reporting a "significant rise" in the number of complaints where the NHS has failed to provide an adequate remedy or proper apology when things have gone wrong. In one case, a bereaved daughter was told "death is rarely an ideal situation for anyone" and in another unhappy relatives were told their mother had "probably said her goodbyes long before the final moments".

Ombudsman Julie Mellor said: "All too often the people who come to us for help are unhappy because of the careless communication, insincere apologies and unclear explanations they've received from the NHS. A poor response to a complaint can add to the problems of someone who is unwell, struggling to take care of others or grieving. The NHS needs to get better at listening to patients and their families and responding to their concerns."

The report, Listening and Learning, is produced independently of the NHS and has released details from 2011-12.

The report highlighted a continuing problem with GPs unfairly or hastily striking off patients from their practice lists after disputes and disagreements. Despite issuing a warning about this a year ago, complaints of this kind increased by 16%.

The report concluded that there needed to be "a clear shift in the attitude and practice of some GPs towards complaints". It added: "As the new NHS begins to take shape, GPs and other providers, GP-led Clinical Commissioning Groups and the NHS Commissioning Board will need to work to embed good complaint handling across the NHS."

The study documents a 50% rise in complaints about the NHS not acknowledging mistakes in care and 42% more complaints about inadequate remedies being offered, including inadequate apologies.

It also breaks down the figures by organisation and revealed that the Devon Primary Care Trust attracted the largest number of grievances in Devon and Cornwall with 70. This was followed by the Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust with 61, the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Primary Care Trust with 60, and the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust with 50.

The figures for other health organisations in the South West were: Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust 40; Devon Partnership NHS Trust 26; Plymouth Teaching PCT 27; Torbay Care Trust 31; and the South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust 23.

The South West Strategic Health Authority received 30 complaints and the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust seven.

The Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust received 15 and the Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust 10.

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  • robocop1982  |  November 14 2012, 8:34PM

    I remember seeing the stressed out look on a female paramedics face in torbay hospital. I could tell visually they are obviously under alot of stress and are understaffed and under equipped and short on medicine and basic essentials. ALso many people forget our country is still suffering the terrible effects of ww2 and we cannot tell exactly where that road will lead. There are some idiots who don't even realize we are still suffering the effetc of ww2 today. if it wasn't for ww2 our man power would be ten times the strength it is today. Remember that all those people in ww2 that were killed meant our country is now less than what it would of been had they not of been killed because of ww2. if not for ww2 damage our country would today have double the amount of hospitals and bussineses. Remember we came close to being wiped out. just think think of the amount of damage ww2 has done to our economy and the amount of construction it stopped. even today food shortages on supermarket shelves are still evident with high prices which make sure people do not over consume and empty the shelves which would lead to people starving. the bigger our population increases the bigger the problem will get.

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  • kernewekonan  |  November 14 2012, 2:41PM

    Yet after all these abysmal failings in not only the nhs which is totally unexceptable, other services and public utilities run by these private companies are in no better state. the buffoons in government and local councils still want to privatise more. i just wonder why, can it be there is something in it for them? utterly disgusting the whole affair of privatisation, it all should all be in public control.

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  • josdave  |  November 14 2012, 1:27PM

    The NHS just like every other big company these days is top heavy in the managerial departments and when cuts have to be made are they made at the top? Oh no they made at the bottom so there are less workers having to do more work per person so it is inevitable that the service will suffer. It would be a great help if the management( which doesn't seem particularly good at managing) were severely cut back allowing the workers to do their job without as much hindrance.

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  • cornwallbeach  |  November 14 2012, 12:47PM

    Healthcare in Cornwall has just got worse and worse by the year. I used to be a healthcare assistant, I actually wanted to train to be a nurse but in 2006 i swerved changed my career completely. I feel so sorry for NHS workers at the moment, they are really up against it, especially in Devon and Cornwall.

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  • Canuread  |  November 14 2012, 12:50AM

    I'm so disgusted at some of these comments. I have just been diagnosed with cancer. My GP referred me quickly. The Specialist, The Surgeon and other healthcare team members have been nothing but friendly, supportive and willing to keep me fully informed. A lot of people on here seem to know nothing about everything! So what if you had to wait 6 hrs in A & E for a cut finger!! Anything life threatening or likely to have serious effect on life are always dealt with quickly.

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  • nickthompson  |  November 13 2012, 8:32PM

    A man has miraculously cheated death after being hit by a 15 tonne lorry - leaving him so badly injured his insides were left strewn across the road. Lewis Godfrey, 23, suffered such horrendous injuries that doctors on the scene pronounced him dead twice. A team of 34 doctors and nurses were called in to save his life after he was rushed to hospital with his body parts held together in a blanket. Read more: http://tinyurl.com/cxcg5p7 like this will not help one bit with their privatisation plans for OUR NHS.

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  • nickthompson  |  November 13 2012, 3:02PM

    Whistle 9339 "This is nothing to do with cuts!!!----------------- The Royal College of Nursing last night accused NHS bosses of 'sleepwalking into a crisis', claiming that more than 60,000 health jobs will disappear as a result of budget cuts. "The NHS workforce in England has already fallen by 28,500 posts since May 2010, and another 32,700 jobs are at risk of being cut, the RCN claimed. The number of qualified nurses alone had fallen by more than 6,000 between May 2010 and July this year.------------------------------Whistler 9339 Always so well informed LOL.

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  • reiwruwiou  |  November 13 2012, 12:41PM

    "Many nurses and doctors hate their jobs but won't leave to allow other people who are keen and enthusiastic to enter the profession. If you think there are better jobs out there then take your miserable faces and ship out!" Another pearl of wisdom from Whistle9339. Firstly, nobody goes into a profession that they hate. If what you say is true (unlikely) then these people must have come to hate their jobs, and what's to say the same thing won't happen to those who are "keen and enthusiastic to enter the profession" now? How long before they too "hate their jobs"? Secondly, People cannot leave these kind of jobs in the south west unless they are happy to get a job cleaning chalets for minimum wage, for example. In other parts of the country disatisfied health staff can pop along to the local pharmaceutical company or private health provider and get suitable employment - not so here, where low wages fail to attract major companies who are after a "higher calibre" of staff than would be attracted by minimum wage (a vicious circle.)

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  • Whistle9339  |  November 13 2012, 10:43AM

    Once again, researching findings stating what we have known for a long time. This is nothing to do with cuts!!! The problem is many nurses and doctors don't know how to communicate as they believe they are in an elevated position. Secondly, Many nurses and doctors hate their jobs but won't leave to allow other people who are keen and enthusiastic to enter the profession. If you think there are better jobs out there then take your miserable faces and ship out! I was on;ly at Treliske yesterday where I was met with a surly receptionist and a 70 minute wait without any explanation or apology - Great job Lezli Boswell!!

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  • nickthompson  |  November 13 2012, 9:25AM

    I see our policy of cutting staff number's,and funding cuts to the dreadful NHS is having the desired result,the more we cut,the more people will complain,eventually when we put forward proposals to sell it off to the French,Germans or whoever to make huge profits out of the plebs suffering, nobody will raise a finger to stop us,we are well on our way to our objective.

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