Patients could be scared to complain

PATIENTS' concerns are not being listened to properly and some are too scared to complain for fear of being discriminated against, a new report claims today.

PATIENTS' concerns are not being listened to properly and some are too scared to complain for fear of being discriminated against, a new report claims today.

A patient forum in the Suffolk Coastal area has compiled the findings as part of the new annual health checks which all NHS organisations will undergo instead of star ratings.

After scrutinising the work of the Suffolk Coastal Primary Care Trust for the last year the forum believes it does not meet a number of the required standards.

Their main concerns are around complaints procedures within the trust.


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They cite a lack of training in handling complaints, especially within GPs surgeries. They also state that not all surgeries display information on how complaints can be made and say information about healthcare is not adequately distributed, failing to reach the more rural areas covered by the trust.

The report states: “While systems exist to ensure that patients and the public have access to information and feedback mechanisms, such systems can not be said to be fully effective.”

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Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for the PCT, said: “All NHS trusts follow very rigorous complaints procedures and all complaints are handled independently from medical records.

“Any complaints patients make are kept entirely separately from medical records and should have no bearing on the treatment a person receives.”

The forum's comments will be used as part of the Healthcare Commission's Annual Health Check.

Jenny Brabazon, a member of the forum, said: “Copies of our comments are available for the public to look at and, if they would like to add anything, we would urge them to contact us as soon as possible.

“The Healthcare Commission is obliged to include all of our comments verbatim in their final report.”

The forum's final submission has to be made by April 10.

If you would like to see a copy of their comments or add your own contact the forum's support office by calling 01473 407346 or emailing michelle.green@shaw-trust.org.uk

n. What do you think of the findings? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

The annual health check is the Healthcare Commission's new system of assessment for all NHS trusts in England.

It replaces the star ratings and is designed to provide a fuller picture of the performance of a trust against certain standards.

The key areas they will look at are:

safety

clinical and cost effectiveness

governance

patient focus

accessible and responsive care

care environment and amenities

public health

Trusts are required to invite comments from patient and public involvement forums, overview and scrutiny committees and their Strategic Health Authority.

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