HSE Getting 400 Complaints A Month From Unhappy Patients

THE embattled Health Services Executive is receiving 400 formal complaints a month from disgruntled members of the public.

Poor treatment and bad-mannered health staff top the list of complaints.

A long-promised formal complaint system came into effect in January last year, in a bid to end the frustration felt by people who had tried and failed to get their grievances heard, sometimes being passed from one official to another.

The first progress report, covering the first six months of the scheme, has now revealed how dissatisfied patients and members of the public are making almost 400 formal complaints a month about the health service.

Four in 10 relate to treatment and quality of service delivery (47pc) — but as many as 13pc were about poor communication, staff attitude and manners.

Problems with poor attitude and manners were worst in Dublin and mid-Leinster, while they accounted for more than one in 10 grievances in Cork and Kerry.

Delays and waiting times accounted for 9pc, while 7pc centred on facilities and buildings. The state of facilities accounted for as many as 15pc of the grievances in the west.

The biggest set of complaints of were lodged by people in the HSE West (878), followed by the HSE South (768), HSE Dublin mid-Leinster (313) and HSE Dublin north-east (248).

The report does not state how each of the complaints were resolved and whether the complainant got a satisfactory outcome.

The key aim is of the new system is to allow for a uniform and standardised process of making and dealing with complaints, so that they can be tracked through the system with a right of appeal.

The report conducted an analysis of how the 2,207 complaints were dealt with and a target set for this year is that 80pc of be dealt with within 30 working days.

They should also all be acknowledged, on behalf of chief executive Brendan Drumm, within three days.

There are now 900 complaints officers appointed throughout the service to handle the complaints.

The bad news, according to a separate report, is that as many as 6pc of files are going missing under the complaints process. A manual tracking system is now recommended to wipe this out.

In one instance, the local complaint officer had to review a complaint that involved an allegation against themselves.

“In these instances — and they may be very few — it might be better practice to send the complaint to another complaints officer in the area or a service manager in that part of the organisation,” the report said.

The system also has provision for a complainant to ask for a review of any recommendation made by a complaints officer. A complainant is also entitled to refer a complaint to either the Ombudsman or the Ombudsman for Children.