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Hospitals “should apologise more”

Hospitals should apologise more when things go wrong with patient care, the health watchdog has said.

There has been a rise in concerns about safety, complaint handling and communication, according to report by the Healthcare Commission, which looked at more than 10,000 complaints.

Poor standards of hygiene, nutrition and maternity care along with a “brisk” attitude from GPs and nurses were popular complaints.

Nearly a quarter (24%) of the complaints were about safety and effectiveness, a 2% increase on the previous year.

Some 17% of complaints were over communication and the information patients received, up 1% on the previous year. The third most common complaint was about how the NHS responded to grievances, accounting for 16% of the total, up 11% on the 5% of the previous year.

The Healthcare Commission said improvements in the way trusts handled complaints and learned from mistakes were being seen. But it said there were key areas for progress, including offering patients a simple apology.

The Spotlight on Complaints report covers more than 10,000 complaints independently reviewed by the Commission between August 2006 and July 2007. Each year, the NHS delivers 380 million treatments and receives around 140,000 complaints.

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Healthcare Commission