Hospital and health services in the Grimsby attracted a record number of complaints last year.
There were 615 written complaints made in 2018/19, up from 545 in 2017/18, and the highest number since comparable figures began in 2015/16.
That’s the equivalent of nearly two complaints a day.
The figures cover hospital trusts, commissioning groups, mental health trusts, community healthcare providers that provide care in North East Lincolnshire.
Most of the complaints – 565 in 2018/19 – were received by Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Trust, which runs Grimsby’s Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital.
Of the complaints about providers and commissioners covering North East Lincolnshire, two-fifths were upheld (73 complaints) or partially upheld (168 complaints).
There were 615 complaints by subject area – complaints can cover multiple subject areas within a single complaint.
Based on this, 52.4 per cent (322) of complaints concerned clinical treatment – primarily accident and emergency (60 complaints), surgical (108), and general medicine (74).
The next most common subject areas for complaints were communication, making up 9.1 per cent (56 complaints), then values and behaviour at 8.1 per cent (50).
Rachel Power, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, said: “It is unsurprising that complaints about issues covering more than one area of healthcare are increasing.
“We have known for a long time that the population would age, giving rise to more older people with complex combinations of long term conditions – but the health service has not been redesigned to anticipate this change in patterns of patient need, leaving people too often without support, and having to attend A&E when they hit a crisis that could otherwise have been avoided. Inevitably, growing complexity in care needs appears to be reflected in growing complexity in complaints.
“These figures are a sign of an NHS under pressure. From complaints about the response times of the emergency services to the seemingly perennial issue of being unable to book a GP appointment for many weeks, patients across the country are feeling the effects of below-trend funding growth in the NHS coinciding with predictable rising demand.
“Patient input is an invaluable resource for the NHS, and it needs to do more to make use of the information it receives through complaints about how its services need to be improved.
“This growing complexity in patient needs and therefore in complaints makes this information ever more important, but it is widely recognised that the NHS has a long way to go in order to become an effective learning organisation.”
Across England, there were 116,247 new written complaints made about commissioners and providers in 2018/19.
Since figures began to be collected quarterly in 2015/16, the annual number of complaints has remained stable.
There were 151,535 complaints by service area, with the largest proportion about inpatient services (33.2 per cent), followed by outpatient services (21.9 per cent).
The number of complaints by service area rose 3.9 per cent last year – with mental health services (up 10.6 per cent), emergency services (up 6.2 per cent), and inpatient services (up 5.5 per cent) seeing particular rises.
There were 193,007 complaints by subject area, up 3.5 per cent in a year, with concerns about staffing numbers (up 43.3 per cent in a year), clinical treatment in paediatrics (up 18.2 per cent) and A&E (up 14.8 per cent), and delayed and cancelled appointments (up 6.8 per cent) seeing particular increases.
Overall, 27.5 per cent were complaints about clinical treatment, followed by communication with 15.4 per cent, then patient care including nutrition and hydration at 12.1 per cent.
Over the period 110,700 complaints were resolved, of these 36,353 (32.8 per cent) were upheld, 34,203 (30.9 per cent) were partially upheld and 40,144 (36.3 per cent) were not upheld.
Nearly half of complaints (46 per cent) were made by the patient, with 9.4 per cent made by parents and guardians, and 3.1 per cent by carers.
An NHS spokesperson said: “More than a million patients come into contact with the NHS every 24 hours and while the vast majority are satisfied with the care they receive we welcome all forms of feedback from patients and their families, so we can continue to improve the services we deliver to them.”
Health and wellbeing
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