Complaints about the NHS in England
Complaints about the NHS make up almost 80% of our work. It is not surprising that we get so many more complaints about healthcare than about other public services given we will all use the NHS throughout our lives.
We see complaints about the full range of NHS services and settings, including GPs, dentists, hospitals, mental health services, and commissioning and funding healthcare. The impact of a mistake by any health provider can be devastating and compounds what is already a difficult time.
The complaints in this report are a snapshot of the investigations we concluded in 2019. This does not indicate that the complaints are from a specific time. It might have taken some time for the complaint to come to us, and the time it takes us to investigate varies. For the most complex cases, we often collect hundreds of pieces of evidence, seek specialist advice, and carefully weigh up a large amount of information.
The cases in this report show the impact of mistakes and the potential for complaints to help drive improvements in the quality and safety of NHS services. We know that many NHS organisations already use feedback from patients and their families to improve NHS services. Unfortunately, this is not the case across the NHS. We hope the cases we have included encourage the NHS and its constituent parts to continuously improve services.
We publish a quarterly report about our health casework, which details the types of complaints we see. You can find these on our website: www.ombudsman.org.uk/publications/reports-about-nhs
- Delayed diagnosis of HIV resulted in pneumonia and increased risk of other illnesses
- Trust caused pain and fever by prescribing HIV treatment without testing for sensitivity
- Trust missed two opportunities to diagnose cervical cancer, leading to an unnecessary hysterectomy
- Delays in prostate cancer treatment decreased quality of life
- Trust failed to offer combined chemotherapy, resulting in distress and need to travel long distance for treatment
- Failure to react to signs of sepsis meant opportunity to save life was missed
- Failure to carry out echocardiogram led to missed opportunity to provide relevant treatment
- Doctors took skin graft from inappropriate place and without telling the patient
- Trust missed insulin dose, leading to diabetic ketoacidosis and heart attack