Rise in Newport social services complaints

THE number of complaints made to Newport council’s social services department increased by more than 50 per cent in the past two years.

A review of the complaints received by the service found there were 53 complaints made in 2008/09, compared with 63 in 2009/10 and 84 in 2010/11 – equating to an overall increase of more than 57 per cent.

A report to the city council’s cabinet members details the nature of complaints which range from the quality of service received, unacceptable behaviour by staff and poor communication to failure to respond to messages and correspondence.

Of the 84 complaints made in 2010/11 59 were dealt with in ‘stage one’ within ten working days by line managers, 14 were resolved in ‘stage two’ by an independent investigator and four were resolved in ‘stage three’ by an Independent Review Panel.

Seven are ongoing and have been carried over into 2011/12.

In 2008/09 89 per cent of complaints were dealt with in ‘stage one’, compared with 75 per cent in 2009/10 and 76 per cent in 2010/11.

The report says the decrease is down to the implementation of a tighter time scale, which has made it difficult for managers to resolve highly complex issues in time.

The reports adds the increase in the number of cases resolved at stage two over the past three years was down to the complex nature of social services complaints, which sometimes cannot be dealt with within ten working days, and because an increasing number of complainants are opting to go straight to stage two.

But the report says staff have worked to improve its complaints service in a number of ways.

These include publicising its complaints procedure, delivering quality and timely responses and working with staff to raise awareness of their role in responding to complaints.