NHS complaints body is sorry for delaysHealthcare Commission failing to meet targets

04 September 2006

 

Thousands of patients who've complained about treatment in the NHS are being left in limbo because of a huge backlog in cases, it has been reported today.

The Healthcare Commission – which investigates complaints - aims to deal with 85 per cent of complaints within six months.

But in 55 per cent - or 3,000 -  of the current cases, complainants have been waiting for longer than six months and nearly 900 have spent more than a year waiting for an outcome, the BBC Radio 4 Today programme reported.

Additional distress

The commission's healthcare department head Marcia Fry said: ‘Certainly we are not meeting our own targets and we are very sorry for the additional distress that we are causing people as a result of that.

‘But we have seen this unprecedented rise of complaints coming to us - 17,000 in the two years since we have taken on this function - against 3,000 each year in the NHS.’

Ms Fry said the organisation was dedicating more staff to the backlog and was investing nearly £10 million to fight it. The commission received around 8,000 complaints last year.