Ambulance complaints drop

COMPLAINTS are falling at the ambulance service –but that's partly because many have not been counted, the Evening Star can reveal.Until this year, every complaint received was counted, which saw 325 complaints in 1998/99 and 299 in 1999/2000.

COMPLAINTS are falling at the ambulance service –but that's partly because many have not been counted, the Evening Star can reveal.

Until this year, every complaint received was counted, which saw 325 complaints in 1998/99 and 299 in 1999/2000.

But now bosses say they only need to count formal 'written patient-related complaints' – which means they had just 104 complaints in 2001/2002, instead of 191.

East Anglian Ambulance Trust chief executive Dr Chris Carney said: "Until this year we had erroneously submitted every single complaint received, in our annual complaints return.


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"It is very clear that this should not be the case, and that we should be returning our totals of written patient-related complaints, in order to be accurately benchmarked with other NHS organisations.

"There is no differentiation in response, speed or thoroughness of investigation and timescale compliance in the way that the trust deals with its formal and informal complaints. The only difference relates to reporting."

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During the past year, eight out of ten complaints were dealt with within the 20-day time limit set by the Department of Health, compared with six out of ten the previous year.

There were nine complaints received in March 2002, compared to 19 in March 2001.

A total of 38 letters praising the actions of staff were also received last month.

The subject will be discussed at the trust's next board meeting in Norwich on Thursday.

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