NHS in England received a record 571 written complaints a day last year

The NHS received the equivalent of 571 written complaints every day last year - a record high.

NHS in England receives 571 written complaints a day in 2016/17.
NHS in England receives 571 written complaints a day in 2016/17.

Data from NHS Digital shows a 4.9% rise in the last year in complaints from patients, friends and family about GPs, dentists and hospital care.

There were 208,415 written complaints received by the NHS in England during 2016/17 - the same as 4,008 a week or 571 for every single day.

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This is the highest figure on record, although some of the way in which data is collected has changed over the last decade.

In 2006/07, there were just 133,393 complaints.

The data shows a 9.7% rise in written complaints to GP and dental practices in 2016/17 compared with the previous year.

In 2016/17, there were 90,579 such complaints, up from 82,559 in 2015/16.

Meanwhile, in secondary care, including hospitals and community services, there was a 1.4% rise in complaints to 117,836.

The data showed that half of complaints made about GPs and dentists that are resolved are upheld, while the figure is 36% for hospital complaints.

Medics in hospitals accounted for the most complaints by profession, up 7.4% in a year, followed by nurses.

Nurses received 22.7% of complaints when sorted by profession, with 36,800 in 2016/17- up 10% on the previous year.

Parliamentary and health service ombudsman, Robert Behrens, said: 'The NHS provides high-quality care to millions of people every year but unfortunately we still see a wide variation in the quality of NHS complaint handling.

"Far too many complaints come to us that could have been resolved by the NHS, leaving people waiting too long for answers and delaying important improvements."

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said: "GP practices actively encourage patients to submit feedback and raise complaints if they feel that the care and services they have received are below their expectations.

"It is through patient feedback that GP teams can improve the care they deliver to their patients.

"However, the family doctor service has experienced almost a decade of under-investment and as a result, GPs and our teams are buckling under the pressures of a huge increase in patient numbers but a shortage of doctors to care for them.

"Inevitably, this will occasionally impact on the service we can deliver and this can be frustrating for patients - and GPs."