Complaint records of the NHS now available

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Investigations into the devastating failures by public services which have resulted in patient deaths, financial hardship and suffering have been exposed.

The public is able to gain access to a host of complaints about the NHS, which include a range of failures to detect serious illnesses.

In one such case, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation offered a male a misdiagnosis about having a blood clot when it was actually a tear in the blood vessel leading from his heart to his body. The medics were not given opportunities to save his life and this resulted in the Trust being ordered to compensate his wife £2000.

Among the records made available by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman are complaints about government departments. This includes the instance of a teenager who fled to the UK to seek asylum, but was left in limbo, without any legal status, for 10 years, while waiting for the Home Office to handle his case. His work and educational opportunities were greatly affected and the Home Office was instructed to pay him £7500 as an apology for their error.

The ombudsman has made details of 81 investigations available online for the public to view.

Julie Mellor, from the office of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, said the investigations place the spotlight on the devastating effect failures in public service can have on the lives of individuals and their next of kin.

She said this is the first time the public, service providers and MPs will have the opportunity to view details of these cases. She stated that this will allow MPs to become aware of complaints about public services in their constituencies and will give people the confidence to complain if they are aware of the outcome of other people’s cases.

She said that their methods are being modernised in a bid to help more people with complaints and organisations to learn from their mistakes. The ombudsman will continue to work with public service regulators, Parliament and consumer groups in an attempt to make a difference in complaint handling which should result in improved services.

A spokeswoman from the Department of Health said that one of the best methods of improving standards is to listen to patients. She said they welcome the increased openness surrounding complaints. She added that hospitals should ensure that patients, their families and carers are aware of the complaints procedure and this information should be displayed in every hospital ward.

The executive director from Which?, Richard Lloyd, said people often refrain from complaining about public services because they feel that nothing will be done about it, so the publication of results of investigations will provide the general public with more confidence.

Image Credit: Connor Tarter

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