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Number of written complaints about NHS falls nearly 5%

16 September 2016

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Family Health Services (FHS) in the NHS, including GP services, received 4.7% fewer complaints over the last financial year compared to the previous year, official statistics reveal.

NHS Digital figures show the number of FHS written complaints decreased by from 86,629 in 2014/15 to 82,559 in 2015/16.

Across the NHS, the number of complaints dropped by 4.2% to 198,739 in 2015/16 – 8,668 fewer than in 2014/15.

Written complaints were collected in two forms: complaints about NHS hospital and Community Health Service (HCHS), which includes hospital and ambulance trusts, and complaints about Family Health Service (FHS), which includes GP and dental services.

The NHS Digital report noted that a single written complaint could cover multiple subject areas, service areas, and professions.

This means the number of written complaints involving a subject, service, or profession could be greater than the total number of written complaints.

Of the 82,559 written complaints involving a service area in FHS, medical services received the highest number of complaints at 31,815, closely followed by practice administration at 31,475.

Of the 84,738 written complaints related to a subject area, clinical care received the largest number of complaints at 31,559.

This was followed by communications and attitude, which received 19,387 complaints, and practice administration, which received 19,001.

Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the decline in complaints is a “testament to the dedication of GPs and our teams working hard to deliver excellent patient care in the face of huge resource and workforce pressures”.

She added: “It also shows that GPs and our teams are listening to the concerns patients have about the services we provide, which constitute 90% of all patient contacts in the NHS.

“However, there is always room for improvement and it is important that all patients’ concerns and complaints are taken very seriously.”

The data also found that for the first time since 2010/11, the number of HCHS written complaints has fallen, dropping from 120,778 in 2014/15 to 116,180 in 2015/16.