Bradford NHS Complaints Report Published
Today we published our report about people's experiences of NHS complaints across Bradford District.
Findings suggest that:
• People found the complaints process challenging even with positive support from independent specialists.
• Key issues reported included; a lack of communication, lengthy timescales and no faith that their experience will be used to make improvements to services.
• Many put off making a complaint because they fear it will affect the care they receive in the future.
Research carried out by Healthwatch England in 2014 found that two thirds of people do not complain when they receive or witness poor care. There has been significant focus within the NHS in recent years on improving the complaints process, and in particular, learning from complaints. But despite these efforts we still continue to hear from local people who find the complaints process difficult to navigate.
As a result of these concerns, and in partnership with Bradford’s Independent Complaints Advocacy Team (ICAT), we decided to investigate these issues further to try and understand more about local people’s experiences of making a complaint.
97 people shared their views through surveys and 1-2-1 interviews over a six week period and responses were mixed. People commented on; the difficulties of navigating the system, the length of time it took to reach an outcome, the levels of communication regarding what was happening and also how stressful they found the process.
Respondents were positive about locating information about making a complaint citing; online information, Patient Advice Liaison Service (PALS), staff within health services they were accessing, their advocate or support worker as being helpful. Many were also complimentary about organisations who specialise in supporting a complaint, but on the whole people still found the complaints process challenging.
Of those surveyed who decided not to pursue a complaint, the most common reasons given included; feeling that nothing would change as a result of a complaint and being worried that a complaint might affect the quality of care they and their family received from the service.
Sarah Hutchinson, Healthwatch Manager said:
“It’s important people are able to make a complaint quickly and easily if their care has fallen short of expectations. This helps people feel safe, but also provides services with vital information about the treatment they provide, and how it can be improved.
We know that some health providers in Bradford are keen to improve people’s experiences of making complaints, and we hope that the findings of the report will help make this happen.”
Sharon Cullerton, Managing Director of Vital (which hosts ICAT) commented:
“As an organisation that works independently with local citizens helping them navigate the complex NHS complaints procedure we know how difficult people can find it. At ICAT we aim to help people make sense of the complaint process, get voices heard and try to help them receive fair and equitable treatment.
It’s our hope that together with Healthwatch and the findings of this report we can improve the NHS complaints handling in Bradford & District, make the process more equitable and streamlined, more meaningful for patients and ultimately a useful learning tool for the NHS organisations.”
We have shared our findings and a number of recommendations with local service providers and CCG’s with the aim of improving the complaints process locally.