Data shows credibility of complaints made by patients about local NHS services

Healthwatch Reading has compiled latest data on complaints the public made about hospitals, community and mental health services, or GP and dental surgeries.

Well over half of complaints made by the public about NHS services in our area are fully or partly upheld, according to data submitted by hospitals, GPs and other bodies.

Healthwatch Reading looked at data on written complaints made by, or on behalf of, patients during 2018-19. All NHS organisations are required to submit these figures to the national data library known as NHS Digital.

It shows that in 76% of complaints investigated by the Royal Berkshire Foundation Trust, there was evidence to fully or partially support patients’ concerns. For Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust, which runs Prospect Park Hospital and community and mental health services, 62% of complaints were fully or partially upheld, while for GPs and dental services, this figure was 59%.

Complaints are upheld 'if substantive evidence is found to support the complaint' and are partially upheld 'if a complaint is made about several issues and one or more, but not all, are upheld', according to NHS Digital.

We compiled the local figures after our national body, Healthwatch England (HWE), called for greater transparency over complaints after undertaking its own research on the issue.

Latest NHS complaint figures for Reading

Royal Berkshire Foundation Trust (runs Royal Berkshire Hospital)

Total new complaints received in 2018-19: 282

Total resolved: 263 (93%)

Total upheld: 100 (38%)

Total partially upheld: 100 (38%)

Total not upheld: 63 (24%)         

Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust (Prospect Park Hospital, community mental health teams and community nursing)

Total new complaints received in 2018-19: 183  

Total resolved: 166 (91%)

Total upheld: 35 (21%)

Total partially upheld: 69 (42%)

Total not upheld: 62 (37%)                           

GP and dental surgeries in Berkshire West (Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire                                              

Total new complaints received in 2018-19:  958 

Total resolved: 948 (99%)

Total upheld: 442 (47%)

Total partially upheld: 118 (12%)

Total not upheld: 388 (41%)

Source: NHS Digital
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HWE’s chair Sir Robert Francis, announced on 15 January 2020 that he would be writing to all hospitals trusts to ask them to move away from only counting the number of complaints, towards proving to the public they had learned from complaints.

“Four in five people have told us that seeing where other people’s complaints have made a difference would encourage them to speak up. Yet fewer than half of NHS hospitals in England (38%) are reporting on any action taken in response to complaints raised by patients and loved ones,” he said.

Complaints “should not be seen by hospitals as something to ‘be managed’, but as an opportunity to learn and improve”, Sir Robert added.

Read Healthwatch England's report