There are “systematic problems” with NHS hospitals failing to listen and learn from patient complaints, the Health Service Ombudsman has warned.
The Francis report into the serious care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust found that the trust’s board did not listen to patients or staff.
But the ombudsman said in a new report today that far from Mid Staffordshire being an isolated case, there are “systemic problems with NHS hospitals failing to listen and learn from patients”.
The main reasons patients and their loved ones complained to the ombudsman last year included poor explanations, no acknowledgement of mistakes, inadequate financial remedies and unnecessary delays.
Another failing identifed was that staff either did not know about their trust’s complaints procedures or, if they did, failed to follow them properly.
Health Service Ombudsman Dame Julie Mellor said: “We know that 64% of people do not believe that complaining will make a difference.
“One woman was advised to complain in writing about concerns that her mother was not being washed or helped to go to the toilet in hospital. She was told her complaint would be acknowledged within 28 days. ‘My Mum could’ve died in that amount of time’, she said.”
“People complain because they want to know what has gone wrong, they want an apology and they want to make sure others don’t suffer the same problems.
“We see example after example of cases where hospitals aren’t using complaints as the vital source of feedback they are. Learning from patients, improving services and building trust all flow from managing complaints effectively.”
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