Older patients use NHS more but complain less

  • Date: 12 October 2022

MORE patients over age 55 years used the NHS in England (66 per cent) than those under 55 years (57 per cent) during the pandemic, but fewer (25 per cent) would have been willing to complain compared to under 55s (34 per cent).

These are the findings from an August 2022 survey of 2087 people commissioned by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).

It also reports that 44 per cent of over 55s said they would complain now if unhappy compared to 48 per cent of under 55s. The number dropped to 41 per cent for over 65s.

People living in rural areas were less likely to complain (21 compared to 33 per cent) than those living in urban areas, and those who earned less than £14k per year were both less likely to use the NHS during the pandemic (61 compared to 66 per cent) and less likely to complain (31 compared to 39 per cent) compared to those who earned between £41k and £55k.

Ombudsman Rob Behrens said: “It’s vitally important that the biggest users of the NHS make sure their voices are heard. Complaints form an essential part of learning and can have life-changing consequences. Feedback from patients can lead to systemic reform and potentially help to avoid unnecessary deaths.

“I urge all public bodies, not just those in health, to ensure they are doing all they can to make it easy for people to complain and to welcome those complaints as a way to develop their services.”

This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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