You are reading 1 of 2 free-access articles allowed for 30 days
The situation is revealed in minutes of operational team meetings of the South/South West Hospital Group (SSWHG), obtained following a Freedom of Information request.
The minutes from last December referred to the complaints backlog, “with cases taking up to two years to be responded to”.
“The deficit at hospital level in training of phase two of the complaints process was acknowledged and UHW have been offered assistance in developing new complaint management pathways,” the minutes stated.
Minutes from November outlined that “the need for support and management of phase two complaints is critical”.
Phase two is the stage where there is either an informal resolution of a complaint or a decision to formally investigate, according to a SSWHG spokesperson.
Minutes also revealed that the Group is struggling to deal with complaint review requests in a timely manner.
The Group received 56 review requests up to 8 November 2016. Some 25 complaints were active, with 16 relating to 2015 and nine to 2016.
“Activity is slow as it is complex and dependent upon further responses from hospitals and require considerable time to consider all issues raised,” the minutes read.
A UHW spokesperson said that one-third of all complaints received are about patient clinical care and that the hospital does not manage to respond to all of these “complex” complaints within the required time frame.
“On a monthly basis the Patient Services Office receives forty to fifty complaints. Half of these are verbal and resolved informally. Half are written complaints, which require a formal review and written response to the complainant,” stated a spokesperson for UHW.
“The UHW Complaints Management Policy is undergoing review… It is hoped that this will deliver improved response times for patients, with local resolution in a timely manner in most cases. Complaints resolution training is ongoing for staff at the frontline.”
The SSWHG is now managing seven complaint review requests, with all complaints from 2016 and 2017.
“Both UHW and Cork University Hospital have similar backlogs and both hospitals have measures in place to make improvements. There are no backlogs in the other hospitals within the Group,” said the SSWHG spokesperson.