Patients who raise concerns about poor care in the NHS are likely to be left frightened, disheartened and exhausted. This is the conclusion of a new report published today by the Patients’ Association, which claims that half of complaints made in the health service are not well handled.
The report strikes a sensitive nerve, with the NHS regrouping from the Mid-Staffordshire scandal and resulting inquiry chaired by Sir Robert Francis QC, who is now the President of the Patients’ Association and is conducting a new inquiry into NHS whistleblowing.
The Patients’ Association’s report suggests the health service is yet to break free from a culture of secrecy identified by Sir Robert during his investigation into care standards in Mid-Staffordshire. With the NHS set to be at the heart of next year’s General Election campaign, the report demonstrates how all three major parties will have to explain to the electorate how they would ensure quality of care at a time when the health service is facing unprecedented demands on its resources while also facing a near £30 billion funding gap. It also raises the question as to whether the political parties will need to consider greater regulation of NHS professionals to ensure patient safety.