Healthwatch England recently investigated healthcare providers across England to discover if they accepted complaints raised by people wishing to report incidents of poor care relating to others.

Worryingly, 46 out of the 123 trusts that responded to the Freedom of Information request responded ‘no’ when asked whether or not they formally record complaints made by third parties or so called ‘citizen whistleblowers’.

In addition, when asked about policies they had in place, Healthwatch received a variety of responses including:

  • Many stating incorrectly that they can only look in to such complaints if the patient gives their consent.
  • Some reporting that such incidents are considered general feedback but are not formally investigated and they are not included in their official complaints figures reported to the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
  • Others simply said that they do not accept or record such complaints.

Moreover, just 30 trusts said they do investigate such incidents and were able to provide details of how many cases they have had over the last three years.  Between 2011 and 2014 they collectively recorded 8,448 complaints made by ‘citizen whistleblowers’, representing 18 per cent of the 46,753 complaints made overall.

Such incidents clearly account for a significant number of cases in these trusts, and for others to simply turn away these sorts of complaints suggests many tens of thousands of incidents elsewhere across the country are simply not being addressed.

Thankfully, our local Trust does record third-party complaints. They replied,

Concerns raised by third parties are usually dealt with as “Chief Executive” queries following a similar to [sic] process to complaints. This will depend on the severity of the concern and the possible associated potential harm or risk. Some may be logged as Incidents and investigated via this route.

Full details are here.

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