The Healthcare Commission is urging NHS trusts to do more to learn from patients’ complaints and to handle the issues raised ?quickly, efficiently and locally?.
It will today publish a report on the recurring themes in some 16,000 complaints sent to the Commission for independent review between July 2004 and July 2006.
The Commission has legal responsibility in England for reviewing complaints where a patient is dissatisfied with the response of a trust. This happens in about 8% of the 95,000 formal complaints made each year about the NHS, which annually provides 380 million treatments.
With poor complaints handling among the top issues patients raise, the watchdog will launch the first national audit of how NHS trusts deal with people’s concerns.
It will look at good and poor practice, inspecting some 50 trusts after analysing performance indicators covering all trusts in the country.
Inspectors will check whether trusts give complaints handling sufficient priority and learn from the issues raised. They will consider whether complaints systems are accessible and understood by people using services. If trusts are not up to standard, this will be reflected in their annual performance rating.
The Commission?s report highlights the areas of concern most frequently raised by patients about NHS trusts, GPs and dentists (see note to editors). It then picks out ten common themes that came up regularly when inquiring into these complaints.