Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Complaints Report

Mandie Sunderland chief nurse
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Complaints Report
25 November 2014

Statement from Mandie Sunderland, Chief Nurse at The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, In response to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman report on upheld complaints. 

“Complaints about the NHS are valuable in identifying issues about the way healthcare services are provided and where change and action is needed. I believe acknowledging these issues and taking steps to rectify any problems identified is vital to improving patient care and the experience of patients and their families, and in creating an open and honest NHS.

“We are the second largest non-teaching Trust in England and in 2013/14 we received over 1.1 million patient visits to our four hospitals and our community staff made over 150,000 visits to patients in their own homes. The vast majority of our patients were satisfied with the care and treatment provided by our staff and all of our wards and departments receive hundreds of thank you cards and formal letters of praise complimenting the care they receive. However, we know that like many hospital trusts we don’t always get it right. When that happens we investigate any complaint thoroughly and aim to resolve it promptly and to the patient’s satisfaction. Sometimes we are not able to do this and last year the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman investigated 31 complaints of which 20 were not upheld, and the remaining 11 were either fully or partly upheld; a large majority of these were historic cases with some dating back to 2010.

“Many of the complaints upheld have highlighted poor communication between staff and patients and their relatives on some of our wards as the main problem rather than concerns about the standard of care or clinical treatment. This is something we are taking seriously and are working hard to improve through a number of ways including specific staff training, our new 3 Steps to Excellence Nursing & Midwifery programme, the introduction of nursing metrics for monitoring standards of patient care on wards, improved information sharing between staff during nursing shift handovers and the recent investment of £1m to reintroduce supervisory ward matrons to oversee the running of our wards.

“The Trust Board considers a comprehensive and publicly available report every quarter on complaints received, actions taken and lessons learned in order to make sure that these issues are heard at the highest level within the Trust and to make sure that we apologise to the patients and their family and action is taken where necessary.

"Where the Ombudsman upholds any complaint, we ensure action is taken to improve our services. Since August 2013 we have not received any complaints that the Ombudsman has identified as requiring further investigation. We are, however, currently in the process of reviewing our complaints processes to enhance the quality and responsiveness of our complaints procedures and ensure we can learn from any issues that are raised by our patients."