JUST 300 complaints were made to the Government watchdog against 12 health trusts in South Yorkshire during the last year according to figures released today.
The statistics are contained in a report about handling of complaints against the NHS across England during 2010/11, by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
Complaints listed ranged from minor problems such as failure to answer phone calls to serious concerns about patient care - and there was a slight overall increase on the previous year.
Top subjects for complaint were clinical care and treatment, which made up 33 per cent of cases. Eleven per cent involved communication problems and 10 per cent were about diagnosis.
Details of specific complaints were not revealed in the report, due to patient confidentiality, but numbers of complaints made are listed for each of the NHS trusts in South Yorkshire, North Derbyshire and North Nottinghamshire.
The most complaints - 65 - were received against Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Royal Hallamshire, Northern General, Charles Clifford, Weston Park and Jessop Wing hospitals.
But bosses at the trust say the figure works out at an average of 13 complaints per hospital, whereas Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which has only two hospitals at Doncaster and Worksop, had 57 complaints - 28.5 per hospital.
NHS Sheffield, which oversees GP surgeries and other low-level care in the city, received the most complaints of any primary care trusts in the area, with 48, compared with 36 for Doncaster, 26 for Barnsley and just six Rotherham.
Rotherham PCT, and Sheffield Children’s Hospital, which also had six complaints, received the joint lowest number of complaints in the county.
But NHS Sheffield said its higher total reflected the much larger population in Sheffield compared with other areas.
A spokesman said: “NHS Sheffield works hard to ensure patients and the public are at the heart of our services, and one way people are able to work with us is to let us know if they feel they have reason to complain about the service they have received. We take complaints very seriously and endeavour to resolve them as quickly as possible in a manner the complainant is happy with. Where the complainant doesn’t feel we’ve done that, we clearly signpost them to the ombudsman as it’s their right to take it further if they wish to do so.
“We are pleased that of the 48 complaints the ombudsman received from people who had previously complained to NHS Sheffield, the ombudsman felt we had responded appropriately for 45. Of the further three, we worked to reach a swift and satisfactory conclusion.”
No trust in the area comes close to some of the worst in the country, which had more than 100 complaints.
Ann Abraham, health service ombudsman for England, said nationally the report shows at a local level the NHS is “still not dealing adequately with straight-forward matters”.
“Two themes stand out this year - poor communication, and a failure to resolve disagreements between patients and GPs,” she said.
Chris Morley, Deputy Chief Nurse, at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We care for over 1 million patients a year in our five hospitals and with this in mind our number of complaints is relatively low. However we are never complacent and actively encourage patients to tell us if we have not met their expectations. We have a number of options in place to enable comments, concerns or suggestions to be acted upon quickly these include Matrons on the wards who are always happy to speak to patients or relatives direct, suggestion and comment cards throughout the hospitals and the Patient Services team. If the issue cannot be resolved at ward level, we have a clear process for resolving outstanding concerns in a timely manner.”
Anybody wishing to raise a concern about the NHS can call 0114 271 2400.