Northumberland patient, 83, who went without help washing for five days among complaints in national report

The experience of an 83-year-old patient in Northumberland, who was not helped to wash for five days, is included in a new national report on hospital complaints.

Friday, 24th January 2020, 1:06 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 12:33 am
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Hospitals need to do more to show patients how the NHS is learning from mistakes, according to Sir Robert Francis QC, the chairman of Healthwatch England, the independent champion for people who use health and social care services.

Sir Robert previously headed up the Francis Inquiry into the failings in care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust and says that while there has been some positive change since then to improve openness and transparency, when it comes to complaints, many hospitals are too focused on process rather than demonstrating how they’ve listened.

A review of NHS trust complaints reporting for 2018 has revealed that just 16% of hospitals published stand-alone complaints reports which the current regulations require them to produce.

Healthwatch England’s review took other sources of reporting into account, including annual reports and quality accounts, but based on this publicly available information, only 12% of trusts could be considered to be fully compliant with the regulations.

The report, Shifting the mindset – a closer look at hospital complaints, includes the following personal story shared with Healthwatch Northumberland, outlining that ‘people need to feel confident that their voice will be heard’.

‘An 83-year-old woman called to share her concerns about the care she had received at her local hospital.

‘She told us that she was not helped to wash for five days and that her discharge from hospital was significantly delayed because no one was available to escort her to a simple pre-discharge check.

‘The caller said: “Everyone was too busy. Nobody had the time to coordinate my care. I don’t want to complain formally – just to tell someone, so this does not happen to anyone else”.’

Sir Robert said: “Hospitals and national health organisations need to demonstrate greater leadership and show how they are learning from incidents. Without this, we cannot hope for people to feel their feedback is valued and acted upon.

“I shall be writing to every trust in the country about this report and the need for leaders to shift their focus from counting the number of complaints, to reporting on the people behind them and the actions they are taking to improve services.

“By sharing learning locally and empowering people to speak up about the changes that they’d like to see, we can improve care for everyone. This is integral to the success of our health and social care system as a whole.”

The full report by Healthwatch England is available here –