The Scottish CAB network dealt last year with more than 2,000 cases of Scots who were unhappy with their treatment by the NHS. In 2012/13 Scotland’s CABs dealt with NHS complaints from a total of 2,019 clients. In the previous year (2011/12) the figure was 1,962.
Citizens Advice Scotland is publishing these figures today as the Scottish Government reveals that it recorded a 13% rise in complaints against the NHS in 2012/13 (compared to 2011/12).
The Scottish CAB service offers a formal route for people to complain about the NHS through its Patients Advice and Support Service (PASS). Under this scheme, anyone who is unhappy with any aspect of their treatment can complain via the CAB, where our trained advisers will make sure their complaint is addressed properly and taken seriously.
Citizens Advice Scotland’s Chief Executive Margaret Lynch says,
“The Scottish CAB service is very keen to help people stand up for their rights as patients, and to give them confidence that their complaints will be dealt with properly. Like everything done by the CAB, this service is free, impartial and confidential, and is there for anyone – not only the patients themselves but also their families, friends or carers.
“The NHS in general delivers an excellent, professional and caring service. But we all know that people sometimes have individual experiences which fall below that standard of excellence. These could be about anything from clinical treatment to waiting times, poor communications, bad food or the attitude and behaviour of staff. We want to encourage people to feel they have a right to complain about these things, not least so that the problems they experienced are not repeated for others.
“Of course you can complain directly to the NHS, but we recognise that many people feel uncomfortable about doing this. So that’s why we offer this service. Whatever your complaint is, advisers at your local CAB are specially trained to help you navigate the NHS complaints process. They do this in various way, for example by giving you advice about how to complain, or giving you practical help such as writing letters and making phone calls, and even in some cases accompanying you to meetings with NHS staff.
“In essence it’s about helping people understand their rights as patients, as stated in the Patient Charter. The CAB network is all about empowering people, as citizens and as consumers. There is no reason why that shouldn’t extend to the NHS. Patients are entitled to expect a fair and professional service, and if they have not received that, they need to feel they can stand up for those rights. We are here to help them do that.
“To get our help in making a complaint about the NHS, simply contact your local CAB, or go to our PASS website: www.patientadvicescotland.org.uk