Written complaints in the NHS
We explore the amount of written complaints that health services in England receive.
This annual collection is a count of written complaints made by (or on behalf of) patients. Data are collected via two forms: KO41a (NHS Hospital and Community Health Service (HCHS)); and KO41b (Family Health Service (GP including Dental)). The data relate to the complaints arrangements introduced in April 2009.
Prior to 2013-14, FHS data was collected from Primary Care Trusts (PCTs).
In 2014-15 for the second successive year KO41b data (FHS) was collected from individual practices. Thus for 2014-15 a return rate is known, 94% GP and 83% Dental practices, in the previous year the return rate was 77% GP and 43% Dental. Due to the large increases in return rates between last year and this year any direct comparisons between 2014-15 data and previous years should be treated with caution.
Prior to 2013-14 PCTs provided an aggregated PCT return and in 2012-13 65 PCTs highlighted that at least 1 practice in their area failed to provide a response, which means the overall return rate was unknown.
The figures for the number of FHS written complaints indicate a rise between 2012-13 and 2013-14. However, due to the unknown response rate for 2012-13, it is not possible to accurately establish if the increase is due to a genuine rise or due to a greater number of practices providing information in 2013-14. Therefore direct comparisons between 2013-14 data and previous years for FHS and any overall NHS written complaint totals (where HCHS and FHS figures are added together) should be treated with caution.
NHS HCHS data on its own is unaffected and year on year comparisons are possible.
Since 2011-12 collection an additional data item was added to the KO41 data returns, “Number of Complaints Upheld.” It is now possible to see how many complaints were upheld in addition to the number of complaints made to an organisation, which is not necessarily an accurate measure of performance. This was published as experimental statistics in 2011-12 and will continue to be classed as experimental statistics due to the wide variations and methods of collection adopted by different organisations. The upheld information is available at a national, regional and organisational level.
For more information see Health and Social Care Information Centre, Data on Written Complaints.