Complaints about South Tyneside hospitals are down

South Tyneside District Hospital.
South Tyneside District Hospital.

The number of complaints about hospital services on South Tyneside to the national watchdog fell in the last year.

New figures from the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman show the number of reports about South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust it handled fell to 17 in 2014-15, a drop of four on the previous 12 months.

We take all complaints received extremely seriously and endeavour to arrive at a satisfactory resolution wherever possible.

Steve Jamieson, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s Director of Corporate Services & Estates

But just seven of those complaints were actually accepted for investigation, of which only one was upheld.

One was rejected and the remainder were still under investigation at the end of the period in question.

Steve Jamieson, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s director of corporate services & estates, said: “We take all complaints received extremely seriously and endeavour to arrive at a satisfactory resolution wherever possible.

“On a very small number of occasions, some of our complainants remain dissatisfied and seek the assistance of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) in obtaining resolution.

“In fact, the number of the trust’s complainants who went to the PHSO was down in 2014/15.”

Nationwide, the top three reasons for hospital complaints investigated by the ombudsman were poor communication, errors in diagnosis and poor treatment.

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Julie Mellor said: “We know that there are many factors that influence the number of complaints hospitals receive, such as organisational size, demographics and whether they actively encourage feedback from patients.

“I strongly believe that NHS leaders should welcome feedback from patients and recognise the opportunities that good complaint handling offers to improve the services they provide.

“We are publishing this data to help hospital trusts identify problems and take action to ensure trust in the healthcare system remains high.”

The report reveals that the number of enquiries the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has received and investigated about acute trusts increased year-on-year.

In 2014-15, the service received 21,371 enquiries about the NHS, compared to 18,870 in 2013-14. Of those, 8,853 were about acute trusts, compared to 8,178 in 2013-14.

It completed 1,652 investigations into acute trusts in 2014-15, compared to 852 in 2013-14, a result of a change in the way the service handles complaints, meaning it completed ten times more investigations as in 2012-13.