Complaints about Hospital treble in a year

THE number of written complaints about Ipswich Hospital have trebled in the last year, a new report reveals.

The new figures, published by the NHS Information Centre yesterday, show the number of complaints has soared from 249 in 2008/09 to 747 written complaints this year.

Across Suffolk in the last year the total number of hospital complaints rose 99% from 483 to 962 - above the national rise of 13%.

At West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds they received 204 written complaints compared with 215 this year.

Health campaigners have branded the increase “disturbing” but have called for a breakdown of the complaints to determine whether they relate to patient care by doctors and nurses or complaints about housekeeping and other more minor issues.

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But the hospital has defended the rise welcoming complaints as an opportunity to act on patients’ concerns.

Hospital spokeswoman Jan Rowsell said the jump is the result of a new way of recording the “concerns and complaints” lodged at the hospital. She said whereas last year they recorded just the 278 formal written complaints this year they have included every concern raised by patients.

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Based on this year’s recordings, Ms Rowsell claimed they received 1,447 concerns and formal complaints in 08/09.

“We actively encourage people to let us know what they think,” she said. “We have speak out forms throughout the hospital and digital equipment to monitor patients’ views. I think it would be more worrying if patients were dissatisfied but did not tell us.”

Health campaigner Prue Rush said: “Whichever way you look at it, it is disturbing that there are this number of incidents people feel they need to complain about.”

Mrs Rush said the jump may be a result of a general feeling of unhappiness amongst people prompting them to speak out.

“There is an anxiety about what is happening in the NHS and people feel they have to speak up now.

“But it is important to keep perspective, complaints can be anything from feedback about food or about the care they receive from doctors and nursing staff. Until these figures are broken down it is difficult to see exactly how important they are.”

Ms Rowsell said every letter of complaint is seen by the hospitals Chief Executive Andrew Reid and followed up by a senior colleague before a formal investigation is carried out.

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