Almost 1 in 3 people across England personally experienced or witnessed a relative or friend receiving poor quality care at some point in the last year. Yet two thirds of people didn’t complain about it, according to a new report out recently.
However, Melksham based watchdog Healthwatch Wiltshire (HWW) say the figures could be much higher if more data was available about the number of complaints regarding local social care services, including residential care homes and community care support.
Patients report that the number one reason they would complain is to prevent others having to suffer, but they say they are being prevented from doing this because the complaints system is too complicated, takes too much effort and they don’t have faith their feedback will make any difference.
Healthwatch Wiltshire has explored the local picture and has found that sadly, for many people in Wiltshire their experience of navigating the system does not differ greatly from what has been found nationally. In addition, children and young people in particular reported feeling scared and embarrassed about raising a concern.
Healthwatch Wiltshire has been working to address this problem. Their report made a number of recommendations for acute care providers that they believe will lead to an overall improvement in the complaints system and therefore in people’s experience of using it.
These include providing clear, easily accessible information about how to raise a concern or make a complaint, ensuring complaints information and processes are child friendly and putting in place a process by which innocent bystanders and non-relatives can raise concerns on another’s behalf. All of these recommendations have been approved by the Wiltshire Health and Wellbeing Board and local providers of acute care have agreed to work with HWW to make sure that they actually become a reality
Emma Cooper, chief executive of HWW said, “If people have a poor experience of a health or social care service then they should be encouraged to give feedback which includes raising concerns or making a complaint. It should be easy to do this but people tell HWW that it’s not. I’m pleased that there is now a commitment to improve the information and systems for complaints in Wiltshire.”
Learning from complaints is a vital part of driving improvement across health and social care. Healthwatch Wiltshire would therefore urge anyone who is concerned about the care they, their friend or relatives has received to come forward and ensure that health and care services hear about their experience.
The full report: NHS and Social Care Services in Wiltshire: Pathways to making a complaint or raising a concern can be found at www.healthwatchwiltshire.co.uk/resources