More complaints hit health service

HANNAH FLEMING
Last updated 05:00 10/11/2012

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More people are complaining about the service and care they are getting from Taranaki health services.

Recent statistics released by the Taranaki District Health Board have shown a jump in patient complaints.

From June to August 2012, 76 patient complaints were received - a 43 per cent jump on the number received from the previous three month period.

The most common issues were the attitude of clinical staff, access to the service, medical treatment, delays getting services, and poor communication.

There were 16 complaints made where the attitude of clinical staff was the issue.

TDHB quality risk manager Anne Kemp said complaints relating to surgical waiting list prioritisation had been highlighted.

However, it was hard to know why the complaints had risen overall.

"One reason could be that patients and families are aware of their rights and their ability to complain to the health provider or directly to the Health and Disability Commissioner [HDC]."

Mrs Kemp said any feedback was seen as an opportunity to improve services and what they did not know, they could not fix.

"Our aim is to address any deficits identified and this may be achieved through reviewing and changing our policies and processes, and delivering targeted training to staff to raise awareness.

"We are hopeful that the number and types of complaints will reduce over time."

There has also been a significant increase in national complaints received by the HDC from January to June 2012, with a 37 per cent increase on previous six month periods.

A total of 355 complaints were received about care across all district health boards in the country.

Ten complaints were related to the TDHB, which puts the Taranaki hospital above the 80.8 national average rate per 100,000 discharges, at 90.6. Five of those complaints referred to "inadequate treatment" and are currently progressing through the HDC's review process.

"All of our complaints, including those received from the HDC, are investigated internally.

"Our investigation aims to identify what happened and where we can make improvements to prevent, or at least reduce, the recurrence of the same event," Mrs Kemp said.

On a brighter note, the TDHB received 670 comments from its patient satisfaction survey during the September quarter and 71 per cent of the feedback was positive.

Staff gained 45 per cent of the positive comments, with overall service close behind on 41 per cent.

Of the 197 dissatisfied comments received, 28 per cent were in relation to the facility, while communication and waiting had 22 per cent negativity, and food, 12 per cent.

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"We would expect this number to decrease with the commissioning of the new hospital building which is scheduled for the end of 2013," Mrs Kemp said.

- Taranaki Daily News

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