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Complaints against health authorities up 81% since 2010

By Michael McHugh

Published 02/07/2015

The volume of complaints about health and social care has increased by 81% in five years
The volume of complaints about health and social care has increased by 81% in five years

The number of complaints about health and social care is on the rise as patients lose trust in the health authorities, Assembly Ombudsman Dr Tom Frawley has said.

Clinical decisions, treatment and social care represented nearly two-thirds (62%) of issues determined by the watchdog last year, according to his annual report.

While the number of new health complaints received during the year reduced slightly from a high of 370 in 2013-14 to 337 (a drop of 9%), the general trend remains upwards with the volume of complaints having increased by 81% in five years.

Dr Frawley said: "The investigations of a complaint regarding clinical care and treatment are both complex and extended, typically requiring the advice and comment from a wide range of different specialities or professions.

"An underlying issue in many of the complaints brought to me is a breakdown in trust between the patient, their family and the health and social care (HSC) body being complained of.

"In our modern HSC system patient care can involve a number of HSC bodies. It is therefore important that the HSC system is designed so that essential information is available at each stage of the patient's journey, ensuring both informed patients and appropriate care and treatment."

He urged the NHS to focus on a "complainant-centred" approach to help ensure that complainants get the answers and information they are seeking.

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