NHS complaints rise sharply in Scotland

NHS complaints rise sharply in Scotland

The NHS in Scotland has saw a 13 per cent rise in complaints last year, figures from the Scottish government show.

During 2012/13, hospital trusts in the country experienced 9,161 complaints compared to 8,117 for the previous 12 month period.

In contrast, complaints against general practitioners and dentists were down by 13 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.

Some 28 per cent of complaint were fully upheld, 35 per cent were partially upheld and 36 per cent rejected.

Just 61 per cent of all complaints were dealt with within the NHS target of 20 working days.

Alex Neil, the Scottish government's health secretary, said the rise in complaints does not mean that the service is failing overall.

"In an organisation of this size, care can sometimes fall below the standards we all demand," he added.

"In those cases I want to encourage patients to give us feedback, whether good or bad, so that health boards can continually improve the care they provide."

Jack Carlaw, health spokesman for the

Scottish Conservatives, said the Scottish government must ensure that nobody in its ranks attempts to "fob off" the increase as merely the result of the complaints procedure becoming easier.

He added that failing staff numbers was the biggest factor in the rise, particularly with the Scottish National Party cutting nursing positions.

It's a view shared by Labour's Richard Baker, who highlighted the case of NHS Grampian which had 976 complaints in 2005/06 and 1,279 last year.

"These figures show what happens when SNP ministers do not fund our local health services properly and give our excellent local NHS staff the backing they need," he said.

He added that ministers might claim to be protecting health services, the figures show what is really happening.

Earlier this year it was revealed that NHS spending on private healthcare services in Scotland rose by more than 60 per cent to £40 million during 2011. Much of that was accounted for by having to send patients for private procedures to reduce backlogs.

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