Patients under the care of NHS feel too frightened to report poor treatment and those who did were met with defensiveness from staff, the Health Service Commissioner for England said.
Half of patients who wish to complain don't
Dame Julie Mellor spoke to The Daily Telegraph in a frank interview that outlined serious problems within the NHS following a report from the NHS Ombudsman.
The report investigated the complaints made by patients which are deemed to have been handled unfairly by the hospitals. New measures have been called for to ensure patients feel safe when reporting a complaint and the right action taken after each submitted complaint.
This proposal put forward would include free access to a patients’ advice service 24 hours a day, notification of the senior person to make complaint to and a regular measurement of feedback from patients.
These recommendations have been forwarded to an independent review of hospital complaints orchestrated by Ann Clwyd, an MP who experienced first-hand the appalling failures in NHS care.
The report found that many patients, carers and even high profile hospital staff were unaware or confused of how to make a formal complaint and the subsequent procedure.
Speaking about the report Dame Julie Mellor told The Daily Telegraph: “What we found was that there is toxic cocktail - patients felt reluctant to complain, because they can fear it will affect the care they get - and that if they do, they are met with a culture of defensiveness, where they don’t get the explanations they need, and the opportunity is lost to learn really powerful insights, which could improve the NHS.”
Figures suggest that 50% of people who considered or wanted to make a complaint about the NHS did not do so. Many believe that the process would be too bureaucratic or that nothing would be achieved, some even felt that their care would suffer as a result of a complaint.
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