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Patients still afraid to make complaints

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Patients are “frightened” to complain about poor care because they are afraid it will affect any future treatment they receive, a committee of MPs has been told.

The Commons health select committee’s inquiry into complaints and litigation, which is expected to report in June, heard barriers to good complaints handling included organisational culture and the low pay grades of some staff dealing with complaints, which meant they found it difficult to challenge more senior colleagues.

Anne-Marie Ledson, team leader at the Independent Complaints Advisory Service in Yorkshire and Humberside, told MPs patients “often” said they were “frightened to make a complaint because they still need treatment”.

Helen Thomson, deputy chief executive and executive director for nursing at Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust, also told the inquiry complaints data collected by the NHS Information Centre needed to be useful, current and comparable but “at the moment that isn’t the case”.

The comments come a week after a joint statement backed by eight high profile NHS figures including head of the Care Quality Commission Cynthia Bower, called for “meaningful, comparable complaints information” to drive improvement with the NHS Information Centre leading the changes.

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