Shock rise in hospital complaints

Wigan Infirmary
Wigan Infirmary

Complaints about the borough’s hospitals have rocketed by more than a quarter in the space of a year, shock new figures reveal.

Meanwhile patient criticisms of GP services have plummeted by almost as much.

Wrightington, Wigan And Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL), which runs sites including Wigan and Leigh infirmaries, saw a 28.7 per cent hike in written complaints.

Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust also experienced a rise of 5.7 per cent.

But in stark contrast NHS Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) saw a 26.9 per cent drop in the number of issues lodged.

NHS Digital statistics for 2016/17 show an average national increase in complaints over all services of 4.9 per cent. WWL received 470

complaints that year, compared to 365 in the previous 12 months.

It resolved 255 last year and 190 the year before, with all of those complaints upheld.

A trust spokesman said: “We will always welcome the views of people who have experienced the use of our services. All complaints give us an insight into what our patients think and provide us with an opportunity to review and improve.

“The increase in formal complaints to the trust is reflective of our opportunity to review and improve.

“The increase in formal complaints to the trust is reflective of our continued approach to be open, honest and transparent as we encourage all service users to provide us with feedback about their experiences, both positive and negative. This approach ensures we are listening and learning, keeping the patient at the forefront of all we do.

“We will continue to keep the lines of communication open for patients, relatives and carers to raise concerns and complaints. We provide PALS information on our website, in wards and clinic areas, giving people the option to raise their concerns and complaints in a number of different ways.”

Bridgewater resolved 91 complaints in 2016/17 - 35 were upheld, 24 partially upheld and 32 not upheld. The year before, it resolved 78 cases - 17 were upheld, 21 were partially upheld and 40 were not upheld. Bridgewater is responsible for various health services in the borough, including the out-of-hours service and the walk-in centre at Leigh Infirmary.

A spokesman said: “We welcome all feedback from patients and carers on their experience of our services so that we can use this to continually improve services, where appropriate. Our patient services team regularly promote the support they offer to patients to help them provide feedback and ensure information for people wishing to make a complaint is easily accessible on our website and promoted through social media.

“The figures provided for the number of formal complaints in 2015-16 and 2017-18 are trust-wide and so reflect all areas in which Bridgewater provides services, not just Wigan borough. For the Wigan borough our reporting figures show that there were 31 complaints in 2016-17, two more than 2015-16.”

It was better news for NHS Wigan Borough CCG, which had 19 complaints in 2016-17, compared to 26 the year before.

In 2015-16, the CCG resolved 22 cases - 19 were not upheld, one was partially upheld and two were upheld. In 2016-17, they resolved 20 cases, 10 of which were not upheld, seven partially and three upheld.

CCG chairman Dr Tim Dalton said: “We saw significantly fewer complaints last financial year 2016-17 than we did the year before, which I’m pleased to see bucks the national trend.

“The number of complaints we get in general are very small, with complaints mainly being made about funding decisions for very specialised individual care. 2015-16 was actually an anomaly for us, with more complaints than normal. Last year’s 19 complaints is more consistent with what we would expect.

“However, complaints are an important part of feedback on local services so the number of complaints isn’t as important to us as the information from the complaints because that helps us understand how and where we can improve.”