1. ITV Report

Complaints against Welsh NHS up by 8%, says Ombudsman

New figures show complaints made to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales about Welsh NHS bodies have increased by 8% over the past year.

Credit: PA
cases is what the 8% increase equates to.

The Ombudsman has assigned Improvement Officers to five of Wales’ Health Boards :

  • Abertawe Bro Morgannwg
  • Aneurin Bevan
  • Betsi Cadwaladr
  • Cwm Taf
  • Hywel Dda

The Ombudsman, Nick Bennett, said the continued trend was concerning and called on the Assembly to push forward with new Ombudsman legislation that will help drive up standards of public service delivery.

The ongoing rise in complaints about NHS bodies is concerning. A significant factor is the high volume of complaints received about Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and my Improvement Officer will continue to work with the health board to ensure continued learning.

I would urge the Assembly to push forward with the new draft Ombudsman bill in the autumn. I am confident that if passed, the new legislation will allow cycles of poor service delivery to be spotted more easily and dealt with greater efficiency.

– Nick Bennett, Public Services Ombudsman for Wales

The Welsh Government says it's working hard to prevent complaints:

We have not yet seen the Ombudsman's report, but will consider it carefully when we do. All NHS bodies in Wales are working hard to prevent complaints and to deal with them appropriately when they arise.

As well as the work already underway in the NHS, we welcome the Ombudsman's assistance through the improvement officers he has put in place. Every complaint made to the NHS is taken seriously, and we expect Health Boards to investigate them thoroughly. We value feedback and encourage concerns to be raised as soon as possible so they can be dealt with quickly and easily so services can continuously learn and improve. Across Wales, we know that patient satisfaction with our NHS remains extremely high.

It's important to remember that every year the Welsh NHS deals with around 18 million contacts in primary care, three million outpatient attendances each year and one million A&E attendances and 750,000 admissions to hospital."

– A Welsh Government Spokesperson

Analysis from ITV Wales Health reporter James Crichton-Smith.

A key point to draw out of what the Ombudsman is saying today is around Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

It is this health board that is the cause of most concern for the Ombudsman and it's the complaints about it that have not helped the overall 8% figure. This is made all the more significant since this is a health board that has been put into special measures by the Welsh Government.

It is important, though, to remember the time it takes for complaints made to the Ombudsman to be processed. In may cases, it takes years for complaints to get through the system. It means that while there has been a rise in complaints as described in the report, the situation on the ground in the health board right now may be different.

The hope, of course, is that in future reports from the Ombudsman the number of complaints about Betsi will fall. If it doesn't, more questions will be asked of the government and chief executive about how well this health board is functioning.