THE NHS in England received an average of 480 written patient complaints a day over the last year, new figures show.
The total number of written complaints made between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014 exceeded 175,000 – a rise of eight per cent on the previous year.
Data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) showed most complaints – 114,000 – were about medical and dental hospital and community health services, an increase of almost five per cent on the 2011-2012 total of 109,000.
The number of written complaints about family health services (including both GPs and dental practices) stood at 60,600 last year, with 40 per cent (24,400) of those relating to GP services. There are no comparison figures from previous years as that information was collected by the now-defunct primary care trusts.
Nearly half (46 per cent) of hospital/community services complaints were made about the medical profession (including hospital doctors and surgeons), which received 52,100 complaints last year, an annual rise of just over one per cent.
By comparison, the dental profession attracted 718 complaints, a drop of almost 22 per cent on the previous year’s total of 918.
The most common cause for hospital/community complaints was “all aspects of clinical treatment”, which attracted 52,300. This is a slight fall on last year’s total of 51,100. The attitude of staff prompted 13,270 complaints while communication with patients caused 11,470.
Other common areas of complaint included delayed or cancelled appointments (9,000) and arrangements relating to admissions/discharge (5,900). Inpatient hospital acute services was the most complained about service area with 34,400 complaints in 2013-14, down on last year’s 34,900. In general practice, “clinical” issues received the most complaints, with a total of 22,200 (36 per cent).
The biggest rise in complaints was against ambulance crews, including paramedics, with an increase of 28.5 per cent from 4,440 in 2012-13 to 5,700 in 2013-14.