complaints about Leeds hospitals have increased over the past year, annual figures show.
Latest data for the number of complaints received by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust shows a 12 per cent rise from 2011/12 to 2012/13.
The increase comes as hospital managers aim to improve their handling of complaints, including better quality responses. However chief nurse Suzanne Hinchliffe said there had also been reductions in some departments, with five reporting the numbers had halved. She said in a report to hospital directors the increase could have been linked to media attention, especially around the Francis report on the quality of hospital care.
“It is believed the reported rise may have been linked to adverse publicity in local media about the organisation and other reports in the national press relating to Francis and quality of care. In addition, many legal firms are now testing the robustness of potential litigation claims through the complaints process,” the report stated. The number of complaints went up from 1,131 in 2011/12 to 1,270 in 12/13. Ms Hinchliffe said numbers had been on an upward trend since November 2011 but the rise last year was more than eight per cent higher than previously. The main increases were in trauma and orthopaedics, theatres, ophthalmology and urology. Common issues raised included falls, which was mentioned in 21 complaints, so the numbers of falls in each department was being monitored.
Pressure ulcers were also mentioned several times, with work ongoing to cut the numbers of patients who develop them in hospital.
More than 50 complaints mentioned a lack of staff and the report said that while a health watchdog had said staffing was sufficient, a drive to improve ward staffing levels had started.
Ms Hinchliffe said they were also planning to cut the target for answering complaints, as some took over nine months.
“I am looking at a 40-day time limit, most complaints should be able to be answered in that time,” she said.