Putting health boards in charge of prisoners’ health care has led to a rise in complaints.
NHS Forth Valley recorded Scotland’s second highest increase, new figures show. Complaints went up nearly a third, from 441 in 2010-11 to 567 this year. NHS Lothian was the board with the highest number of complaints, according to the health service’s information services division.
A total of 889 issues were raised in the complaints with 385 about treatment and 265 regarding the attitude and behaviour of staff.
Almost 60 per cent of the complaints were upheld, or partly upheld with just under 52 per cent dealt with in 20 working days.
The majority of concerns raised involved acute care, 20 were about psychiatric treatment and four maternity. Others concerned waiting times (74), delays (25), environment/domestic (104), procedural issues (20), treatment (385) and transport (11).
A spokeswoman for NHS Forth Valley said: “We actively encourage service users to report any concerns they have about our services and provide a number of different ways for them to do this.
‘‘Our services are regularly audited and surveys are carried out in wards and departments so that patients feel comfortable raising issues and giving feedback on their experience.
She added: “We have taken over responsibility for prison health services which has contributed to the rise in the overall number of complaints received.”
NHS Boards were given this new responsibility in November last year. Forth Valley has three of Scotland’s 15 jails; Cornton Vale, Polmont and Glenochil.
NHS staff now cover prison health centres, treating wounds and providing general health care but also dealing with mental health problems, drug and alcohol misuse.
NHS Forth Valley has launched a new online system to encourage patients to share views and has been working with families to resolve issues as they arise to help prevent future problems.
The spokeswoman added: “This has led to a significant reduction in the number of complaints relating to attitude and behaviour.
“It’s also important to point out that the vast majority of patients are very happy with their care and treatment and we regularly receive positive feedback from patients and their families.”
Councillor Linda Gow, who serves on two NHS boards, said: “I am confident NHS Forth Valley will treat any complaint very seriously and take action where required.”
Central Scotland list MSP Margaret Mitchell claimed the rise in complaints is down to government cutbacks.
She said: “A significant proportion, 29.8 per cent at NHS Forth Valley, of these complaints are about staff who are clearly feeling the strain of the various cutbacks.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Previous research showed that patients were often reluctant to complain about their care so we have introduced measures to make sure that everyone knows that the NHS welcomes all feedback – good and bad.
“The Patient Rights Act, which came into force earlier in the year, gave all patients a right to give feedback or comments, raise concerns or complaints about the health care they have received. This is the best way to make sure that our NHS is delivering the high quality care that people want and expect.”
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