The number of complaints against Wigan's hospital trust have fallen

Fewer complaints were made to Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Trust last year, figures reveal.

By Patrick Jack
Saturday, 12th March 2022, 12:30 pm

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman said patients recognising the pressure on health services during the Covid-19 crisis has likely been a major factor in a fall in NHS complaints across England.NHS England figures show Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) received 410 written complaints in 2020-21.This was down from 491 the year before, and fewer than the 563 received in 2018-19.Complaints were most often about patients aged between 75 and and and over – 130 were lodged last year, accounting for 32 per cent of all those where an age was known.There were also 12 complaints about infants younger than five.Hospital and community health services across England received 83,899 complaints in 2020-21 – a decrease of 26 per cent from 2019-20.However, NHS England announced an optional pause to the complaints process between March and June 2020 which may have affected the number received.Rob Behrens, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman responsible for investigating complaints about government departments and the NHS in England, said it is hard to know exactly why the numbers have dropped, but the pandemic has likely been a “major factor”.

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He added: “People recognise the NHS is under pressure and might be holding back, but ultimately, I encourage anyone who believes they have suffered an injustice to come forward.“I fear the NHS will face a tidal wave of complaints that will take years to go through, while others maybe denying themselves justice by not coming forward.”Communications – such as how decisions are explained or whether treatment implications are made clear enough – was the most common reason for complaint nationally, and the same was true at WWL.The issue was responsible for 44 written complaints last year – 20 per cent of all those where a subject area was listed.This was followed by admissions discharge and transfers (18 per cent), and values and behaviours (14 per cent).Healthwatch England said the fall in the number of complaints nationally is not a reflection of patient satisfaction, as patients were accessing care less often to avoid putting pressure on the NHS.

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