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Over half of NHS Wales complaints not resolved within target time

Information requested by the Welsh Conservatives has revealed 2,993 of the 5,868 (51%) complaints made by patients to health boards in Wales were “not resolved or dealt with” within the Welsh Government target of one month.

The 2017/18 figures mark an increase on the previous year’s when 45% of the 5,861 complaints missed the 30-day target.

The worst performing health boards in 2017/18 were Hywel Dda UHB and Cwm Taf UHB which only resolved 23% and 24% of their complaints in 30 working days of receipt, respectively, despite the latter receiving the fewest charges.

The other health board which failed to resolve even half of the grievances submitted was Betsi Cadwaladr UHB which only dealt with 450 of the 1339 complaints submitted against it – the highest number for a single health board. The North Wales health board has been in special measures for three and a half years.

These transgressions went further still as 145 – or one in forty – complaints were not resolved in six months. 114 of these were in Betsi Cadwaladr, Cwm Taf, and Powys THB.

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg UHB dealt with 80% of their complaints within the 30-day target, making them the best performing health board, but 197 took longer than that, with 15 taking longer than six months. They also received the second highest number of complaints.

The Welsh Government said a target had been set for health boards and trusts in 2017/18 to meet the 30 day working day target in 75% of cases.

The figures were requested by Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister, Angela Burns AM, who said:

“It isn’t just the proportion of complaints that have not been dealt with in the target time that concerns me, but the sheer number of complaints made in the first place.

“Patients across the country expect to be treated by the NHS – funded by their taxes – in a sublime manner, and I am glad to see that is the case of the vast majority. But over 5,000 complaints and half of them not being resolved within the target time is unacceptable.

“People in this country have a right to be treated with dignity and respect when making a complaint to a public body, but this is a great affront and makes people feel as if they are not being heard or treated fairly by the powers that be.

“Having failed to arrest the annual number of complaints, the Welsh Labour Government need to accept responsibility for failing to improve accountability in our NHS for those who use and pay for it.”