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Written complaints about nurses increase, figures show

Nurses received second-highest number of complaints among NHS staff last year.

Written complaints about nurses have risen, with the profession receiving the second-highest number among NHS staff in England, new figures reveal.


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Nurses received the most written complaints last year after doctors, according to data released by NHS Digital.

A total of 36,800 complaints were made about nursing in 2016/17, which accounts for 22.7% of all 161,700 complaints involving an NHS profession.

The new figures represent an increase in complaints about nurses of 9.8% compared with the number for 2015/16.

Unacceptable situation

Commenting on the statistics, RCN deputy director of nursing Stephanie Aiken said: ‘Patients deserve the best care possible and it’s unacceptable that this is not always the case. However, with 40,000 nursing vacancies across England, it is sadly unsurprising that patients do not always feel they get the care they need.

‘As the front-line staff of the health service, nurses often bear the brunt of patient dissatisfaction, regardless of whether or not they are to blame.

‘Without the right levels of staff and funding, our health service is struggling at the moment to deliver the care patients need, and which nurses know they deserve. This is the problem that needs rectifying.’

Medical figures

The figures also show that the medical profession received an increase in the number of complaints, with 66,500 in 2016/17, which accounts for 41.1% of complaints involving an NHS profession. This represents an increase of 7.4% compared with 2015/16 figures.

The NHS Digital statistics revealed that overall there were 208,400 written complaints received by the NHS during 2016/17, up 4.9% on the previous year. This is equivalent to 571 complaints per day.


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