YEP Says, September 22: Has the NHS really turned over a new leaf?

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IN light of promises that the Mid Staffordshire Trust scandal and the plethora of problems it unearthed would mark a sea change in the way the NHS operates, it is deeply disappointing that complaints from patients continue to rise.

The number of occasions on which the health ombudsman was required to intervene because individuals felt their complaint was not handled adequately by their local Trust rose in most parts of Yorkshire, indicating that the health service is, regrettably, heading in the wrong direction. Worryingly, the nature of these complaints also suggests that vows that the NHS has turned over a new leaf lack real foundation.

Poor communication, including the quality and accuracy of information conveyed to patients, was a factor in one third of all complaints, while the attitude and behaviour of staff was another common theme.

Such a picture stands in stark contrast to the promises made two years ago that we would see a more open and communicative NHS in a which a premium was placed on listening to the needs and concerns of patients. Complaints offer large organisations the opportunity to learn from their mistakes in order to continue to improve the service they provide. As such, they could – and should – be viewed in a positive light.

Furthermore, as a publicly-funded service, health officials must recognise that patients – having paid for their care through taxation – are essentially customers and should be treated accordingly. These figures, however, offer a clear indication that this mindset has not yet taken root within the NHS at large. The only conclusion is that the organisation still has its work cut out in terms of being the patient-friendly service that the public were promised it would become.

Good riddance to rail cable gang

IDIOTS who steal cables from railway lines risk lives (especially their own) and cause chaos and disruption to commuters. We welcome the tough sentences handed out to a gang caught in the act by British Transport Police after a series of raids on the transpennine route. Good riddance to them.

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