Only half (52 per cent) of those people who have used the NHS in the last 12 months felt it was easy to make a complaint about the care and treatment they had received. Just over half (55 per cent) said they felt the NHS values comments and complaints and learns from them to improve services.
These are the findings of a new poll commissioned by the patients’ and carers’ charity National Voices from ComRes. They come on the back of a series of scandals including the report into care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust in which a consistent theme has been slowness to pick up on and react to concerns and complaints.
The poll marks the start of a new campaign: “Share the Power”. National Voices is calling for simpler feedback channels that positively invite views from patients and families, ensure a speedy response and help the NHS learn and improve. The campaign calls for:
• Better on the spot feedback channels to resolve issues quickly
• A single phone number (using the existing NHS Direct channel)
• Heavier use of online platforms such as Patient Opinion and a clear expectation that the NHS will respond on these
• Patient feedback to be available to all in the system, including regulators
• Issues to be resolved earlier before they lead to expensive litigation
National Voices and its members are concerned that as health and social care budgets come under great pressure in the next two years, there is a risk of corners being cut, healthcare staff coming under pressure, and patients’ interests being sidelined. To guard against these risks, patients and families need more power and a stronger voice.
Jeremy Taylor, chief executive of National Voices said:
“The NHS is not listening hard enough. Patients can help nip problems in the bud, reduce waste, and suggest better ways of doing things. Now more than ever we need an NHS that actively invites patient feedback, concern and complaints, responds to it and learns from it effectively.”