Health service complaints rise by 40% since last year
The number of complaints relating to Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees health service has risen by 40% since last year.
During the past financial year statistics have revealed 35 complaints were lodged against the clinical commissioning group in the area, up from 25 the previous year.
59% of the formal complaints in the year were either upheld or partially upheld and a number of improvements were introduced in response to this, the CCG said.
The main theme of the CCG cases was issues with continuing healthcare decisions, which accounted for 24 of the cases.
The figures were discussed at the Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees CCG governing body meeting, and chair Dr Boleslaw Posmyk sought assurances changes would be made in response to the complaints.
Director of nursing and quality Diane Murphy at Darlington CCG said work is being done to address the issues raised in Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees, but warned there will always be complaints.
Speaking at the meeting, she said: “There’s been a spike around continuing healthcare.
“There are some things that we need to do differently.
“The changes indicated in the report are and will be happening.
“We will always get complaints around around continuing healthcare issues.
“It doesn’t cost anything to put in a complaint and to challenge it.”
The report found 23 of the CCG cases were handled under the NHS complaints procedure and acknowledged by the complaints team within the target time scale of 3 working days.
One CCG complaint was investigated during the year by the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman, who make the final decision on cases not resolved by the NHS.
However this complaint was not upheld.
The report detailing the complaints was compiled by the NHS North of England Commissioning Support Unit.
Improvements which are in the process of being made include focusing on communication with patients and continuity of cases when staff are absent.
The CCG will also be looking at recruiting more staff to deal with the backlog of cases and a review is to take place looking into the out of hours service.
Improvements have also already been made to strengthen communication with claimants, such as automated email response and the introduction of a performance measure for response to queries, according to a report at the meeting.
Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service