An effective complaints system is a vital part of high-quality health and social care, helping services and individuals learn how to do better when things don't go according to plan.
For people to speak up about their concerns, they need to be confident that the system will act in response. In order to build the trust the NHS needs to consistently demonstrate that they are taking people's complaints seriously.
This report investigates how well NHS trusts across England communicate about their work on complaints and whether current effort are sufficient to build that public trust.
Key findings from report
Local reporting on complaints is inconsistent and inaccessible
- All hospital trusts are reporting to NHS Digital on the numbers of complaints they receive; however, only a minority of trusts report any more meaningful data at a local level.
- Analysis shows just 1 in 8 hospitals trusts (12%) are demonstrating that they are compliant with the statutory regulations when it comes reporting on complaints.
Staff are not empowered to communicate with the public on complaints:
- All hospitals must produce an annual statutory complaints report but they are only required to make it available to people upon request. Yet we found that hospital complaints staff were often not aware of the reports or who could access them.
Reporting focuses on counting complaints and not demonstrating learning:
- Only 38% of trusts make public any information on the changes they’ve made in response to complaints.
- Much of this reporting is still only high-level, telling us little detail about what has changed and only stating that “improvements were made”.