Healthwatch Lancashire says NHS complaints system too complicated

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: The Royal Blackburn Hospital The Royal Blackburn Hospital

A PATIENT watchdog said the NHS complaints system is too complicated and needs to be overhauled.

Healthwatch Lancashire said too many patients and families were ‘put off’ by the process, so crucial feedback and the chance to make improvements were being missed.

Chairman Leslie Forsyth said he backed the findings of a national review by Healthwatch England, which found more than 70 organisations are involved in dealing with complaints about the NHS.

Initially, healthcare providers such as hospitals, GP practices and care homes, or their commissioning bodies, can be challenged, but there is then a complex array of regulators, inspectorates, courts and committees that may get involved, meaning a single complaint can be passed between several organisations.

Mr Forsyth said: “We share the view that the complaints process is too complex and too much hard work for patients once they get inside it.

“Some people are bewildered and others are just put off by how difficult it is. If it was nice and simple people would be able to do it there and then when something happens, but often that spontaneous moment gets lost and they start to think ‘well maybe it wasn’t that bad’.”

He suggested some of the well-documented failings at Stafford Hospital might have been avoided if more patients and families had complained.

The Healthwatch groups in Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen have been working closely with East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust to improve its internal complaints system, which was slammed by inspectors last year for ‘lacking compassion’.

The Royal Blackburn and Burnley General have since launched a drive to offer complainants face-to-face meetings with the relevant clinicians. About two-thirds of complainants are now offered meetings, but bosses are keen to see this increase to 100 per cent.

Sir Bill Taylor, chairman of Blackburn with Darwen Healthwatch, said: "Only the health service could develop such a maze and minefield that confounds understanding even by those employed within it.”

Julie Mellor, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman said: "We are working with the Department of Health, NHS England and regulators to help people better understand where they need to go when they want to raise a concern."

Comments (2)

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2:41pm Sat 22 Mar 14

Loving lances says...

About time. NHS trusts and management are bureaucratic and defensive. They behave like jobsworths and don't care about patients.
The previous regime at East Lancs was headed by a Labour Party political appointee whose medical and management skills were less than zero.
About time. NHS trusts and management are bureaucratic and defensive. They behave like jobsworths and don't care about patients. The previous regime at East Lancs was headed by a Labour Party political appointee whose medical and management skills were less than zero. Loving lances
  • Score: 2

4:43am Sun 23 Mar 14

StacyM says...

I tried raising concerns about care at RBH last year but was put off by the hassle and lack of help I had along the way. First I emailed PALS to say what the general problem was and who to contact / how to go about it and then they just sent back a standard reply with a form to fill in that wasn't relevant to me. When I contacted them again and said this, they just pointed me towards the GP or specialist departments (who couldn't give me all the info I wanted and sent me back to PALS and I went round endlessly in circles. Not one person had the sense to just reply in a personal or informal way or even pretended they were trying to help. An absolute joke.
I tried raising concerns about care at RBH last year but was put off by the hassle and lack of help I had along the way. First I emailed PALS to say what the general problem was and who to contact / how to go about it and then they just sent back a standard reply with a form to fill in that wasn't relevant to me. When I contacted them again and said this, they just pointed me towards the GP or specialist departments (who couldn't give me all the info I wanted and sent me back to PALS and I went round endlessly in circles. Not one person had the sense to just reply in a personal or informal way or even pretended they were trying to help. An absolute joke. StacyM
  • Score: 0

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