THE trust which runs Basingstoke and Andover hospitals received an 11 per cent increase in complaints last year, with 808 formally made.

Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s (HHFT) annual complaints report for 2019/20 looks in detail at the complaints and concerns made to the trust last year.

It shows that one breast cancer patient received a pay-out after her complaint was escalated to the Parliamentary Health Services Ombudsman (PHSO), and that the trust is not meeting timescale targets for responding to complaints.

Of the 808 complaints received, the biggest increase was made about family and clinical support services, which had a 17 per cent rise from the previous year, up from 132 complaints to 155.

The trust has reviewed the number of complaints as a percentage of overall patient activity, showing how many were made per 100,000 of the population.

In all areas, the figure was higher, bar one where it stayed the same.

For inpatient admissions, 2.5 complaints were made per 100,000 of the population, which was up from 1.7 the previous year.

In outpatients, 0.6 complaints were made per 100,000 of the population, up from 0.5 in 2018/19.

The emergency department received 0.9 complaints per 100,000 of the population, which was the same as the previous year.

Looking at the ages of those who complained, the largest category was those aged 26 to 55, representing 34 per cent. Sixteen per cent of the complaints were made by those aged 65 to 74, and 23 per cent were aged over 75.

As well as formal complaints, the trust also received 958 ‘concerns’, of which 28 were escalated to a formal complaint.

A concern is defined as “a matter of interest, importance or anxiety which can be resolved to the individual’s satisfaction within a short period of time”.

The trust acknowledged that it failed to meet agreed timeframes when responding to complaints.

While 97 pe cent were acknowledged within three working days, only 59 per cent were responded to within 25 working days or an agreed timeframe.

The average response time was 35 days.

The report said: “Work is continuing to monitor and improve the trust’s response rate to complaints across the divisions as we take action to address the overdue complaints and sustain improvements in responsiveness for new complaints received.”

It said responding within 25 working days “remains a challenge particularly at times of increased clinical pressures”, adding: “It is important to balance the timeliness of responding with ensuring an appropriate and comprehensive response. We recognise that delays have a significant impact on the complainant both from an emotional perspective and also in the level of confidence that their concerns are being taken seriously and their complaint will make a difference.

“We do not consistently meet expected timeframes and this is something we know we must improve.”

It said this will “remain a priority” for 2020/21.

The trust looked at the most common themes for complaints, with those about communication focused on patients not feeling they were being listened to.

Complaints made about clinical treatment were often about a delay or failure to diagnose, or a delay or failure in treatment or procedure, as well as inadequate pain management.

Complaints about patient care were made about patient’s care needs not being adequately met; inadequate support provided; and pressure ulcer care.

Of the various concerns made, themes focused on cancelled appointments, delayed appointments and delayed results.

Seven of the 808 formal complaints were referred to the PHSO in 2019/20. 

In 2019/20 five complaints to the ombudsman were closed, of which three were not upheld and two partly upheld.

Six remain open.

Of those partly upheld, one related to breast cancer care and treatment, with the PHSO recommending that the trust apologise to the patient, pay financial remedy and develop an action plan to address the failings identified.

The other was regarding a lack of follow up from the hospital after a cyst was discovered in November 2015 and again in February 2016.

No care plan was in place and no end of life plan. The trust was asked to send a letter of apology to the complainant and develop an action plan to address the failings identified by the PHSO.

The report said that NHS England issued advice in March 2020 supporting a system wide “pause” of the NHS complaints process to allow all health care providers to concentrate their efforts on the front-line duties to Covid-19.

However, HHFT said it has not paused the complaints process and continues to “investigate and respond to complaints”.

The trust also looked at the positive feedback given by patients, friends and family, highlighting the 98 per cent of respondents to a friends and family test recommending the inpatient and day-case services.

More than 62,000 people responded.