Steep rise in hospital complaints

South Tyrone Hospital   INTT2812-119JS
South Tyrone Hospital INTT2812-119JS

The number of complaints made against local hospitals including South Tyrone and Craigavon has risen by a third over the past four years.

New figures revealed patients and visitors lodged 1,032 written complaints about their care within the Southern Trust last year, which works out at about twenty every week, compared to 777 in 2011.

Among the catalogue of incidents in which patients and their relatives felt let down, the highest number, 333, were made regarding diagnosis, operation or treatment at local hospitals, followed by patient experience at 191, and appointments and waiting times at 143.

Across Northern Ireland’s five health trust areas, the Southern Trust reported the highest number of complaints regarding professional assessment of need, 95, which accounted for half of all the complaints made in Northern Ireland.

Across Northern Ireland, more complaints were received about the attitude of staff than ever before with the figures showing a rise of just over a third since 2011.

At local hospitals, a total of 168 complaints were prompted by staff attitude or behaviour.

Across the North, the vast majority of complaints were made regarding acute care, followed by family and childcare services and elderly care.

Last year, almost three in ten complaints related to diagnosis, operation or treatment, 18.5% to patient experience, and 15.7% to information &and communication.

A spokeswoman for the Health and Social Care Board said the number of complaints received in comparison to the number of patient contacts with the health and social care service each year, was a small percentage. She added that action was being taken to address complaints more effectively.

In a separate report, Northern Ireland’s Patient Client Council (PCC) said that in the last 12 months, some 1,935 people contacted it seeking support with a complaint.