The NHS in England received more than 3,000 complaints per week in 2012/13, according to official data.
Worryingly, with almost a third of NHS organisations not providing complete data the amount of potential medical negligence complaints is likely to be far higher.
Failing to submit data
It is difficult to compare the figures with previous years, given the number of GP practices that have failed to submit data but the total figure for the number of complaints in 2012/13 was 162,019.
In hospital and community health service practices, there were 109,316 complaints in 2012/13, compared to 107,259 in the previous term – a 1.9% rise.
It is the hospital medical professionals (including hospital doctors and surgeons) that are perhaps most likely to receive medical negligence claims, as this sector accounts for 47.1% of complaints, or 51,462 in total.
The second biggest group is the nursing, midwifery and health visiting group, which accounted for 22.1% (24,146) of complaints. Both of these proportions were increased from 2011/12.
Breakdown of complaints
A breakdown of the reason for complaints in the hospital and community health service group is as follows:
– Treatment accounted for 51,000 complaints
– Attitude of staff accounted for 12,300 complaints
– Communication and information accounted for 11,600 complaints
– Outpatient delays and cancellations accounted for 9,000 complaints
– Arrangements over admissions, transfers and discharges from hospital accounted for 6,000 complaints
Source of medical negligence claims
Another alarming category for NHS bosses – and another potential source of medical negligence claims via Accident Advice Helpline – was the GP and dental sector, of which there were 52,703 in 2012/13.
The number of NHS organisations that were unable to provide complete data was almost twice as many as last year, with 65 out of 150, more than a third, not submitting figures.
The report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre concluded, worryingly, that “We are unable to quantify how many additional written complaints these organisations may have received.”