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Health service complaints up 8%
The number of complaints made to the Health Service Ombudsman increased by 8% in a year, figures have shown.
The NHS received 150,859 complaints between 2011 and 2012, of those, 16,337 patients or family members were dissatisfied with the way the NHS tried to resolve their concerns and referred the complaint on to the Health Service Ombudsman, figures revealed.
There were 1,523 complaints about the NHS not acknowledging mistakes in care, according to a report by the ombudsman. And more than 1,600 people complained about inadequate remedies being offered, including inadequate apologies.
Almost 100 people said they had been unfairly removed from GP practice lists after a dispute or disagreement. The ombudsman said that despite issuing a warning about GPs unfairly or hastily striking off patients from their practice lists, the number of such cases has risen by 16% since last year.
Health Service Ombudsman Dame Julie Mellor said: "Our casework tells us there needs to be a clear shift in the attitude and practice of some GPs towards complaints. Our concerns about how GPs are handling complaints about their practices need to be addressed as a priority.
"As the new NHS begins to take shape, GPs and other providers, GP-led Clinical Commissioning Groups and the NHS Commissioning Board will need to work to embed good complaint handling across the NHS."
In one of the cases highlighted in the ombudsman's report, a bereaved daughter was told "death is rarely an ideal situation for anyone" and that "truth be told your mother probably said her goodbyes long before the final moments".
Another case detailed how a surgeon called a male patient a 'baby' when he expressed his anxiety about having a general anaesthetic.
Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said: "The vast majority of NHS patients are happy with the care they receive, but if things go wrong, some NHS organisations respond to complaints better than others. This is something that the NHS must improve. That is why, under the NHS constitution, we have proposed introducing a new right for complaints to be acknowledged within three days and stronger rights to make sure complaints are handled openly.
"We want to see a patient centred NHS where patients have a stronger voice. This means making the NHS more accountable for the quality of care it provides for patients. The Government has set up the new patient champion HealthWatch, which will argue on behalf of patients and help drive improvements in the quality of health and social care services."