The NHS in England reported receiving 208,626 written complaints during 2017-18 – 0.1 per cent more than the previous year, figures published today show
This equates to one complaint per 265 people in the overall England population8.
Today’s report, Data on Written Complaints in the NHS, 2017-18, includes the number of written complaints about both primary and secondary care. In primary care, reported complaints have risen by 4.5 per cent and in secondary care they have fallen by 3.3 per cent since the previous year.
There were 94,637 written complaints to primary care services, which includes GP and dental practices, in 2017-18 as compared to 90,579 in 2016-17. This is equivalent to one complaint per 584 people in the overall England population8.
There were 113,989 complaints relating to secondary care, provided by hospitals and community health services in 2017-18, as compared to 117,836 in 2016-17. This is equivalent to one complaint per 485 people in the overall England population8.
On average, there were 572 written complaints about the NHS every day in 2017-18, which is one more than the daily average in 2016-17.
A single written complaint can cover multiple subjects, service areas, and professions. This means the total number of written complaints involving a subject, service, or profession could be greater than the total number of written complaints.
Factors affecting the number of complaints may include the visibility of complaints procedures to patients and quality of recording, as well as the quality of services patients receive.
Today’s report provides a breakdown of secondary care complaints by profession, showing:
• The medical profession received the highest number of written complaints with 65,737, a 1.2 per cent decrease from 2016-17 when there were 66,502 complaints.
• The nursing profession received the second highest number of written complaints with 35,873, a 2.5 per cent decrease from 2016-17 when there were 36,784.
• Midwifery was the profession with the highest percentage increase in written complaints rising by 11 per cent from 3,411 in 2016-17 to 3,785 in 2017-18.
• The profession with the highest percentage decrease in written complaints was health visitors. The number dropped by 13.3 per cent from 452 in 2016-17 to 392 in 2017-18.
Read the full report
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Notes to editors
- NHS Digital is the national information and technology partner of the health and care system. Our team of information analysis, technology and project management experts create, deliver and manage the crucial digital systems, services, products and standards upon which health and care professionals depend. During the 2017-18 financial year, NHS Digital published 275 statistical reports. Our vision is to harness the power of information and technology to make health and care better.
- Data covers 1 April to 31 March each year.
- From 2016-17 onwards the primary care data collection was revised in format following a consultation.
- While primary care data has been collected from individual practices since 2013-14, response rates have varied. Return rates for 2016-17 were 97.0 per cent for GP and 86.5 per cent for dental practices. In 2017-18, the response rates were 98.4 per cent for GP and 84.7 per cent for dental practices.
- Not all complaints made within a financial year are resolved within the same financial year. Some complaints that were resolved in 2017-18 will have been made in a previous period. Likewise, some complaints made in 2017-18 will not be resolved until a future period.
- Secondary care complaints relate to Hospital and Community Health Services (HCHS).
- There were 208,415 written complaints received during 2016-17.
- Complaints per resident population are intended to contextualise the figures and should be treated with caution. In particular, the same person may have raised several different complaints which would be counted multiple times in the numerator. It also does not take into account that some members of the population would not have been treated by a particular service so would not make a complaint
- Regional data is available within the report.
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