Fears 3,000 incidents of poor care unreported in Staffordshire as new NHS complaints service launched
A new NHS complaints service is being launched in Staffordshire – amid fears more than 3,000 incidents of poor care went unreported last year.
Health chiefs say people are being put off by the complicated process - so they hope the new phone line will solve the problem.
Independent watchdog Healthwatch has set up its own department to simplify the process.
The organisation's new NHS Complaints and Advocacy team will launch the service next month.
Healthwatch says research it has carried out has suggested thousands of people are not lodging complaints when they experience problems in hospitals or GPs surgeries.
Manager Elizabeth Learoyd said she is confident it can make a 'big difference'.
She added: "Our research indicates people are reluctant to raise a concern about their experience of NHS health services.
"They fear their care or that of a relative might become worse as a result, they are worried or frightened of making a complaint, unsure about what to do or feel nothing will be achieved by doing so.
"Our free and confidential service will provide local support to those people. We can guide them through what can sometimes be a confusing process at a time when they're perhaps feeling emotional and vulnerable.
"We recognise the nature of the NHS service requires a personal touch and that's why we have chosen to move away from faceless call centres.
"Healthwatch will provide help and information with personal, independent, face-to-face support tailored to the needs of an individual.
"We can explain the choices available and help make sure service providers are listening to the concerns being raised."
The service also provides self-help packs and guidance leaflets on topics such as getting access to medical records.
The watchdog will use information gathered from the complaints to help improve health and social care in the county.
Mrs Learoyd added: "We'll be able to identify general trends and statistics and will use that to bring about positive change.
"That's something that has never happened before so this is a service which will create major benefits for people in Staffordshire.
"We're not encouraging complaints, but we hope our support will make residents less reluctant to share any concerns."
Anyone wanting to make a complaint about the delivery of NHS health services can now call free on 0800 161 5600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the scheme, go to www.healthwatchstaffordshire.co.uk
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