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More complaints about GPs than hospital doctors

52% of written complaints in community are about doctors

Adrian O'Dowd

Thursday, 29 August 2013

More written complaints from patients are to do with the care they receive from GPs than from hospital doctors, relatively, according to new figures published today by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

Overall, the number of written complaints about NHS organisations in England was 162,000 during 2012-13, which the HSCIC said was the equivalent of more than 3,000 written complaints every week over the past year and which rose slightly by 1.9% on the previous year.

The total of written complaints made against NHS hospitals and community health services in England was 109,300, compared with just 52,700 for family health services.

However, within family health services, the service area receiving the greatest number of written complaints was “medical” provided by GPs, which comprised 52.6% (27,700), followed by “GP administration” (relating to the work of reception and admin staff within a practice) at 26.4% (13,900) and “dental” at 12.8% (6,730).

For NHS hospitals and community health services, the profession attracting the biggest number of written complaints was also the medical profession (hospital doctors and surgeons), but was slightly less at 47.1% (51,500) of complaints, followed by nursing, midwifery and health visiting at 22.1% (24,100).

In hospitals and community health services, the service area receiving the greatest number of written complaints was “inpatient hospital acute services” accounting for 31.9% (34,900), followed by “outpatient acute services” (27.5% or 30,000), “mental health services” (10.7% or 11,700) and “A&E” (8.9% or 9,680).

For family health services, the subject area receiving the largest number of written complaints was “clinical”, making up 35.3% (17,200), followed by “communications/attitude” (20.8% or 10,100) and “administration” (19.5% or 9,460).

In hospitals, clinical treatment was the subject area that received the largest number of written complaints – 46.2% (51,100) – followed by “attitude of staff” (11.1% or 12,300), “communication/information to patients” (10.5% or 11,600) and “appointments, delay/cancellation (outpatient)” (8% or 8,890).

The HSCIC warned that it was unfair to make direct comparisons between this year’s figures for family health services and those of last year because there had been an increase this year in the number of PCTs that said at least one of the GP or dental practices in their area had not supplied them with data on written complaints.

In 2012-13, 65 out of 150 PCTs said they had not received data on complaints, compared with just 36 trusts in 2011-12.

A HSCIC spokesperson said: “Just because a particular provider, service or service area or profession has a relatively high number of complaints, this does not necessarily reflect on the quality of service provided.

“Numbers of complaints can also be driven by the extent to which a particular provider or department encourages or enables patient feedback and complaints.”

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