Watchdog faces rising tide of NHS complaints

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COMPLAINTS to the Health Ombudsman about the NHS have risen by eight per cent, according to a report today which reveals a Yorkshire surgeon branded a patient who was anxious about an operation “a baby”.

Patients and family members raised 150,859 grievances with the NHS in 2011-12. Of those, 16,337 were unhappy with the way their concerns were dealt with and referred them to the ombudsman.

The body received 1,280 complaints in Yorkshire, including one from an unnamed knee surgery patient under the care of Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The man, identified as Mr B, was anxious about having a general anaesthetic and wanted to discuss his concerns with doctors. He complained the surgeon was rude to him before the operation and told him to go home if he did not want the procedure.

Later the surgeon said Mr B was being “a child or a baby” and patted his chest with the back of his hand.

When the patient complained, the trust accepted what had happened but told him the surgeon had adopted a “friendly approach” because of his anxiety.

It apologised that Mr B was “offended by this behaviour” and said the surgeon passed on his apologies. The patient was unhappy with the “passed on apology” and went to the ombudsman.

The trust then apologised unreservedly and Mr B was offered an opportunity to meet senior staff.

A request for compensation was denied at both stages.

The ombudsman’s report said: “The trust showed good practice – albeit belated – in complaint handling.”

Hilary Bond, director of nursing and quality at the trust, said: “We apologised unreservedly to the patient for any offence and for the fact that he was not satisfied with our initial response.”

Across the country there were 1,523 complaints about the NHS not acknowledging mistakes in care.

Health Service Ombudsman Dame Julie Mellor said: “The NHS needs to get better at listening to patients and their families and responding to their concerns.”