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10pc rise in hospital complaints

PUBLISHED: 09:47 25 June 2003 | UPDATED: 14:02 03 March 2010

A HOSPITAL boss has defended figures showing the number of complaints has risen by almost 10% over the past 12 months.

The board of the West Suffolk Hospitals NHS Trust has been told the trust had received 282 formal complaints from April 2002 and March 2003.

A HOSPITAL boss has defended figures showing the number of complaints has risen by almost 10% over the past 12 months.

The board of the West Suffolk Hospitals NHS Trust has been told the trust had received 282 formal complaints from April 2002 and March 2003.

But Lynne Wigens , acting director of nursing and community relations, said she was pleased with the figures as the trust was dealing with more patients per year.

Mrs Wigens said: "Obviously we would like no complaints, but we are pleased with the current level.

"We are below the national average and, though the number of complaints has slightly increased, more patients are being seen in the trust."

The trust had one complaint for every 8,000 patients – below the national average of 3.6 complaints for every 10,000 and an increase of 22 from the following year.

In a report from Mrs Wigens to the board, she revealed almost half the complaints were found to be justified.

Four complainants were unhappy with the hospital's own investigation but these requests were all refused following an independent review of the complaints.

Concerns ranged from clinical treatment to the delays and cancellations of appointments and the attitude of staff.

The hospital's response time in dealing with complaints within the 20-day national target was 72 per cent.

Mrs Wigens said: "With all our complaints, we investigate, respond and then learn from them.

"It is also useful to note that for every complaint received by the Trust, there have been at least ten expressions of thanks received by wards and departments."

There were also 114 verbal or informal complaints with a fifth of these relating to car parking problems.

Mrs Wigens said the trust was becoming more pro-active through the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS), which dealt with more informal concerns before they reached a complaint stage.

It is estimated the PALS system saves ten hours of trust staff time and reduces the overall level of formal complaints.

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