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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Hospital trust's chiefs hail ‘drastic’ slump in complaints

THE number of formal complaints made against local hospitals has dropped by a third in the last year.

In 2012/13 the trust which runs hospitals in Barrow, Kendal and Lancaster received 744 formal complaints – but in 2013/14 that number was down to 489.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust also cleared a backlog of 110 overdue complaints since April 2012.

Mary Aubrey, director of governance at the trust, said: “We have seen a drastic reduction in complaints in April, May and June. We have been working on changing the culture of responding to complaints.

“It’s everybody’s responsibility to listen to patients and what they have to say.”

A report to the trust board said: “The standard of complaint responses was poor and there was a high proportion of follow-up complaints.”

A project set up in 2012/13 to address this poor performance stalled and struggled to deliver its key objectives.

But the project was examined again in September and has seen “dramatic” results in the last six months.

The report said: “In October 2013, only 20 per cent of complaints were responded to in 35 working days; by March 2014 this had increased to 96 per cent.”

The trust has also acknowledged all complaints within three working days since the project was “rescoped”.

Ms Aubrey told the board that areas including “staff attitude” and “misdiagnosis” had seen a significant reduction in complaints.

Improvements to the hospital’s patient advice and liaison service have seen an increase in the number of concerns dealt with quickly before they escalate into formal complaints.

The largest number of complaints the trust receives is for inadequate care/treatment.

In 2013/2014 the trust received 79 formal complaints for inadequate care/treatment.

The second-highest number of complaints – 53 – is for diagnosis problems.

Ms Aubrey said plans were in progress to allow staff to formally log compliments from patients, as well as complaints.

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