Rise in written complaints in England

WRITTEN complaints to GP and dental practices in England increased by 9.7 per cent in 2016/2017 compared to the previous year, according to figures from NHS Digital.

Overall there were 208,400 written complaints received by NHS England during 2016/17 which is up 4.9 per cent on the previous year. This figure means that, on average, 571 written complaints were made every day.

Around half (49.8 per cent) of resolved complaints made to primary care providers were upheld, 37.5 per cent were fully upheld, 12.4 per cent were partially upheld and 50.2 per cent were not upheld. Of the total number of primary care complaints involving a service area, 83.2 per cent related to GP surgeries and 14.6 per cent related to dental practices.

Complaints in secondary care rose by only 1.4 per cent in comparison. Just over 35 per cent (40,100) of secondary care complaints were fully upheld and 29 per cent where partially upheld.

The region with the highest overall percentage increase in all written complaints was Lancashire, which had 5,300 complaints compared with 4,600 the previous year – a 14.6 per cent increase.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the RCGP, commented: "GP practices actively encourage patients to submit feedback and raise complaints if they feel that the care and services they have received are below their expectations. It is through patient feedback that GP teams can improve the care they deliver to their patients.

"However, the family doctor service has experienced almost a decade of under-investment and as a result, GPs and our teams are buckling under the pressures of a huge increase in patient numbers but a shortage of doctors to care for them. Inevitably, this will occasionally impact on the service we can deliver and this can be frustrating for patients – and GPs."

Link: Data on Written Complaints in the NHS, 2016/17

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