The number of complaints about NHS hospitals investigated by a national watchdog has almost doubled in the last year and the level across the Black Country and Staffordshire has more than doubled in that time.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman investigated 1,652 complaints in 2014/15, compared to 852 the previous year. Of those investigated, 726 were upheld. Across the Black Country and Staffordshire, 29 complaints were either partly or fully endorsed at five trusts across the region, compared to 13 the previous year.
The PHSO is the final stage in the complaints process for patients who are unhappy with a hospital’s original handling of their complaint.
Poor attitudes and staff behaviour were factors in a quarter of cases, with non-medical care a factor in almost half of all complaints received.
Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals (SWBH) NHS Trust saw the number of complaints made to the ombudsman fall from 90 in 2013/14 to 67 over the last 12 months; 13 of those were investigated and seven were upheld.
Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust saw the number of complaints made to the ombudsman fall from 69 in 2013/14 to 62 last year, although the number of upheld investigations rose from two to nine.
The ombudsman received 37 inquiries regarding care at Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, up from 31 in 2013/14, with three complaints upheld following 10 investigations.
Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust saw a steep rise in complaints from 33 to 52, with the number of complaints upheld doubling to six over the last year. Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust saw 52 complaints, a rise of six on last year’s figure.
Nationally, it appears that an apology when things go wrong might be all that patients need, according to the ombudsman’s report – the lack of a proper apology is what prompted 34 per cent of cases submitted to the ombudsman.
Sarah Sutton, associate with Medical Accident Group, said: “An apology is the very least that a hospital can offer a patient whose treatment has been unsatisfactory – it is astonishing how often one is not given. The fact is that hospitals should not only welcome feedback from patients but should act on it – it can only improve services for the benefit of all patients.”
If you or a loved one have suffered as a result of poor hospital treatment, Medical Accident Group can help. Our experienced and sympathetic team, whose knowledge of clinical negligence and personal injury law is extensive, can support you through the process of making a claim and seeking justice. We can advise on issues from brain injury or birth injury to surgical and medical errors and accidents at work. Call us free on 0800 050 1668.