Referrals To NHS Watchdog Soar

A child who was given the wrong vaccination because of a mix-up over names and a new mother who almost bled to death following poor treatment at an acute hospital are among complaints received by England’s health watchdog, its first report on patients’ concerns reveals.

The number of complaints referred to the Healthcare Commission has almost trebled since August 2004, when it took on the role of adjudicator in cases that cannot be resolved between NHS trusts and patients. Some 8% of complaints – 8,500 a year – are referred to the commission because they cannot be resolved.

Over half (54%) of complaints relate to the way in which NHS staff treat death. Almost a quarter of complaints concern patient safety, with the most serious including children having problems with immunisations. Lost notes, elderly people being placed on mixed wards, and hospital-acquired infections are among other common concerns.