A report by the Patients Association has found that more than two-thirds of patients think that the process is pointless and described it as “cumbersome, variable and takes too long”.

Of nearly 500 patients polled:

  •  69 per cent said that they had wanted to complain about the healthcare they had received in the past five years;
  •  for those who complained, 29 per cent described the process as totally pointless, 20.5 per cent as pointless and 19 per cent as slightly pointless: only 2 per cent said that the experience had been “very useful”;
  •  81 per cent believed that there was not a culture of openness in the NHS when errors occurred and staff were not encouraged to report mistakes;
  •  on the matter of recent MRSA outbreaks and other healthcare-acquired infections, 47 per cent blamed NHS trust managers: nurses and cleaning staff were blamed by 16 per cent and 10 per cent believed that doctors were responsible; and
  •  three-quarters felt that trust in doctors and nurses has decreased compared with five years ago.

The Patients Association called for NHS trust boards to be publicly accountable for an “open, transparent and timely resolution of complaints”. It also wants an end to the system where standard complaint responses vary depending on the region.