½ of older patients' families
struggle to complain about poor care in Hospital
OLDER vulnerable people are often
reliant on relatives to raise concerns when things go wrong in Hospital, yet 51%
of family members with a concern say it is difficult to complain about the
Hospital care or treatment of an older relative, according to a new survey.
The survey, published by Gransnet and the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman, asked Gransnet members about their experiences of complaining to the
NHS on behalf of an older relative in Hospital.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman sees far fewer complaints from
older people than would be expected given older people's high usage of NHS
A previous report by the Ombudsman Service has highlighted that many older
people are afraid to raise the alarm when something goes wrong in their care and
worry about what will happen to them if they do.
The survey of over 600 Gransnet members reveals that:- of those who were concerned about the treatment of their older relative, 58%
67% of those who complained do not believe complaining makes a difference;
35% respondents said there were occasions where they were concerned about the
care or treatment of their older relative in Hospital; and
31% felt that the Hospital staff did not have an adequate understanding of their
older relative's condition or care needs.
The survey also
reveals wider concerns about communication with older patients and their
40% participants did not feel they were kept informed about their older
relative's condition in Hospital and were not given enough opportunities to
discuss their care and treatment; and
33% respondents felt they were not adequately involved in decisions about their
older relative's care and treatment.
Poor communication is a factor in around ⅛ of all complaints the
Ombudsman service investigates about the NHS in England.
Rob Behrens, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, said:- "The NHS
is a life line for many vulnerable older people, but when things go wrong, too
many are suffering in silence.
I want people to be confident to complain, know their rights, and speak up when
things go wrong so that the NHS can learn from mistakes and improve services for
others. NHS staff should make patients and their loved ones aware of how
to complain, point them to available support, and make it absolutely clear that
their future care will not be compromised."
Lara Crisp, Editor of Gransnet, said:- "Patients deserve better than this.
While we appreciate that services are stretched, communication with patients and
their families must be improved. They should feel that their concerns are taken
seriously and addressed properly.
It's simply not acceptable that over ½ of people with a concern feel they
can't complain or that it won't make any difference if they do. Hospital staff
need to be supported and enabled to communicate better with patients so that
everyone is clear about the complaints procedure and patients are reassured that
this will not affect their future care."
The types of issues respondents experienced included their older relative not
being given enough help with their personal care needs, such as going to the
bathroom and washing themselves, which affected 28%.
19% of those surveyed said
that their older relative had not been treated with dignity and respect during
their time in Hospital.