I have seen countless complaints in the political sphere on social media, in the press and on TV over the last few days; people who would normally be expected to bite their lip, or to toe the party line, have come out and spoken at length in regards to their anger / frustration, which I’ve found surprising.
Having specialised in Healthcare Risk and Governance for the last 3 years, Complaints has always been an important part of our business, but we have certainly seen the number of complaints roles increase rapidly over the last 6 months. Are we now a nation who complains more (think of the well documented increase in legal claims against the NHS) or is it because Healthcare services are deteriorating?
A Complaints Manager who works at one of the largest Acute Trust in London who has this to say:
“I believe that the expectations of the public far outweigh what is or can be provided due to the rapidly increasing population with everyone too busy playing catch up instead of forward planning. Patients also feel that if they complain they will receive an earlier appointment.
The public are encouraged to complain (Mid Staffs and Hart/Clwyd reports) and we also conduct patient surveys and offer the patient the opportunity to complain (Friends and Family test). Trusts encourage patients to complain so that failings can be identified and improvements made. Patients (probably more so their families) also expect instant diagnosis and cure. This is very difficult with the increasingly ageing population who, due to their age, have much more complicated conditions due to co-morbidities.
However, we do shoot ourselves in the foot sometimes in that increases are also due to the introduction of new IT systems which were aimed at streamlining automated systems for efficiency, but instead the teething problems, have caused considerable complaints in confusion with appointments and letters being duplicated or not sent and delays in reporting results back to patients and GPs.”
According to the data from Health and Social Care Information Centre the number of Hospital and Community Health Services (HCHS) complaints has been increasing year on year since 2011/12; between 2013/14 and 2014/15 there was an increase by 5.7% (6,470 complaints)
Within Hospital and Community Health Services (HCHS) the largest increase can be seen for NHS England commissioning, which has seen the number of complaints increase by 40.4%. It is followed by other community health services and elderly (geriatric) services, which see increases in the number of complaints by 25.3% and 20.0% respectively.
Most complaints are received in the subject area ‘All aspects of clinical treatment’ with 53,438 complaints (44%) in 2014/15, an 8% increase since 2011/12. The next two largest subject areas in 2014/15 were complaints for ‘Attitude of staff’ (13,771) and ‘Communication / information to patients (written and oral)’ (12,439). These top three areas haven’t changed since last year.
It would therefore seem that it is a combination of the population complaining more as well as a perceived deterioration in the quality of care (and most likely funding) and with the uncertainty facing the NHS over the coming months and years, the chances are the number of complaints will only continue to increase.
Beth Waterman – Venn Group