The Ombudsman’s Annual Report and Accounts for 2017/18 reveal that complaints against NHS bodies (which include Health Boards and Trusts, GPs and dentists) increased by 7% on the previous year – rising from 863 to 927.
Complaints about Health Boards rose 11%, with large increases in complaintsreceived about Abertawe Bro Morgannwg (up 29%) and Aneurin Bevan University Health Boards (up 34%). Whilst the number of complaints about Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board fell moderately by 3%, it still generated 186 complaints, the highest number of any Health Board in Wales. There were small reductions in the number of complaints about other NHS bodies such as GPs and Dentists .
In total, the Ombudsman received 2,253 complaints, 2% fewer than in the previous year. This decrease is largely attributed to a 10% reduction in complaints about local authority services. Complaints that local councillors had breached their code of conduct, however, increased by 14%.
Assembly Members recently agreed to approve the general principles of new legislation that would give the Ombudsman own initiative powers and enable him to investigate the private healthcare element of complaints involving a mix of public and private healthcare.
Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, Nick Bennett, said:
“Spiralling health complaints are a real concern and they now make up more than 40% of my office’s total caseload.
“Many healthcare complaints are complex, sensitive and significant, often involving harm or the death of a family member. They often take longer to investigate than other complaints due to the seriousness of the matters raised and the need for clinical advice.
“When my office finds an injustice, we expect bodies to take on the learning from my investigations – only if they do this are we likely to stem the flow of complaints.
“More generally, I’m pleased to see a small reduction in the total number of complaints across devolved public services in Wales, with a 10% drop in complaints about local government. I hope standards of service are maintained and the improvement continues next year.”