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Study slams NHS complaints handling


Health trusts in England give a poor or incomplete explanation to patient complaints too often, a report has claimed.

The study, which examined more than 15,500 complaints, concluded that the NHS needs to “listen harder” when people criticise the way that their care was handled.

Health service ombudsman Ann Abraham – the “next step” for patients dissatisfied with the response they get from an NHS trust – found that 44% (6,304) of the complaints were made about hospital, specialist and teaching trusts. Some 17% (2,419) of complaints received were about GPs – the second most complained about group.

Overall, 63% of all complaints investigated and reported on by the ombudsman were upheld or partly upheld. Of complaints about GPs, 56% were upheld or partly upheld, while 80% of 659 complaints about dentists were upheld or partly upheld.

Ms Abraham said: “Many of the lessons that can be learnt from complaints are straightforward and cost little or nothing to implement at local level: a commitment to apologising when things go wrong; clear and prompt explanations of what has happened; improved record keeping and better information for patients about how to complain.”

Copyright Press Association 2010

Health service ombudsman

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