Complaints about hospitals in Worthing and Shoreham rise

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COMPLAINTS about hospitals in Worthing and Shoreham have risen in the last year.

The Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust received 621 complaints during the year ending March 31, 2011, up from 584 the previous year.

Most of the issues – about 55 per cent – raised related to clinical care, with 190 grievances being raised at Worthing and Southlands hospitals, while 153 were made about St Richard’s in Chichester.

The hospitals’ accident and emergency departments also came under fire, with 55 complaints directed at the department at Worthing, and 40 to its counterpart at St Richard’s.

But the trust pointed out it had made a number of changes after registering the negative feedback, including putting up “Do not enter” signs in every cubicle of the accident and emergency department after a patient raised “privacy and dignity issues” after suffering a miscarriage there.

A report by the trust found staff attitudes were also highlighted as areas people had made complaints about.

The top five issues raised were:

Clinical care: 343 complaints (190 from Worthing and Southlands, 153 from St Richard’s)

Admissions, discharge and transfer arrangements: 64 complaints (32 from Worthing and Southlands, 32 from St Richard’s)

Attitude of staff: 55 complaints (37 from Worthing and Southlands, 18 from St Richard’s)

Communication/information to patients: 47 complaints (30 from Worthing and Southlands Hospitals, 17 from St Richard’s)

Appointments – delay or cancellation (outpatients): 40 complaints (28 from Worthing and Southlands Hospitals, 12 from St Richard’s)

Cathy Stone, director of nursing, pointed out in the report that a number of changes had been made after complaints were received.

These included: offering more support to patients following breast cancer surgery; improving the process for transferring medical records between hospital sites; redesigning the plaster room at St Richard’s; and a new appointment system in the ophthalmology department to ensure patients receive a follow-up check if their procedure is cancelled or rescheduled.

Of all the complaints made, 13 airing their grievances took them on to the Ombudsman which is two per cent of the total; of those 13 complaints, three were upheld.

Over the past five years, the average number of complaints received each year has been 604.

A spokesman for the trust said the slight rise was partly due to a change in the counting mechanism, pointing out it had become easier for patients and visitors to give feedback in recent months.

He said the trust aimed to respond positively to complaints, which was why they had made changes after complaints were made.