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Complaints annual report 2020 to 2021

During the first quarter of the year, the complaints process was paused nationally. This was to allow staff who would usually investigate complaints to focus on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
NHS organisations were allowed to determine their local response to the national decision. NHS Kernow determined it was possible to maintain the complaints process. This was due to the drop off in the number of complaints being received. Members of the team were also redeployed to support incident command.

Overview of contacts received

Quarter Number of complaints Number of enquiries Complaints for other organisations Ombudsman Compliment
1 0 12 11 0 0
2 5 22 34 0 0
3 6 10 22 0 0
4 6 24 31 1 0
Total 17 68 98 1 1

In quarter 2 we saw an increase in complaints and contacts. However in a normal year we would expect to see approximately 35 formal complaints in a year and around 300 other contacts.

The complaint and enquiry contacts were mostly about COVID-19 related issues or decisions made due to COVID-19. Whether they were referral delays, planned care decisions or the stopping of services. There were also 315 contacts in quarter 4 regarding the roll out of the vaccine. These were received directly by the vaccination support team and are therefore not in the figures above.

Major themes

The major themes were:

  • people not receiving an email confirmation after booking through the national booking site
  • people wanting to know when they will get their vaccine
  • education or nursery workers getting vaccine
  • people asking whether they should be in a particular cohort
  • frontline or key workers getting vaccine
  • temporary residents getting vaccine in Cornwall
  • wanting to know which vaccine is being given
  • vaccinations for housebound patients
  • unpaid carers who work or live with vulnerable people
  • people asking if there was a vaccination site closer to where they live because of travel
  • people wanting to know when they will hear about the second dose

NHS Kernow formal complaints

Complaints received Quarter 1 Quarter 2 Quarter 3 Quarter 4
Referral management 0 1 0 0
Planned care 0 2 0 0
Mental health 0 1 1 0
Multi-agency (COVID-19) 0 1 1 0
Continuing healthcare 0 0 4 6
Prescribing and pharmacies 0 0 1 0
Total 0 5 6 6

NHS Kernow received 1 formal complaint regarding the lack of commissioned GP aural care. There were 3 enquiries and an approach from Healthwatch West Cornwall regarding the changes to the service.

This was due to:

  • a clinical review of people waiting to be seen in secondary care
  • being identified as not needing secondary care services
  • GPs recognising that this was not part of their contract

Both the primary and secondary care services are in the process of being reviewed by the respective teams.

Of the complaints received:

  • 1 was withdrawn
  • 5 were not upheld
  • 4 were partially upheld
  • 7 were fully upheld

The main theme of the complaints and contacts received this year was COVID-19. This may have been negated with increased communication with families and people. Whilst it may not have stopped the complaints, it may have allowed for more understanding of the impact of the pandemic on teams and services to groups of people.

There was an increase in the number of complaints received regarding continuing healthcare (CHC) in quarter 4. However these complaints related to delays due to COVID-19. CHC staff were redeployed during the pandemic, the assessment process was paused and then restarted nationally. This has led to delays in assessments and appeals for families and may result in further complaints in the coming months.

Complaints about primary care

NHS Kernow took on the commissioning of primary care in April 2020. We also picked up the complaints about primary care commissioning. However, NHS Kernow does not investigate complaints related to the provision of primary care. These remain the responsibility of NHS England and NHS Improvement.

The complaints manager has worked closely with the primary care team on the processes and practices related to handling enquiries and complaints in primary care. This is to ensure we are patient focused and resolve issues as swiftly as possible, without picking up a responsibility which does not sit with NHS Kernow. Quarter 4 saw an increase in the contacts related to primary care. This might be because of the vaccination roll out, but it is not clear. There were 25 patient contacts regarding GPs in 2020 to 2021, of which 9 were in quarter 4.

Complaints and enquiries for other organisations

Organisation Quarter 1 Quarter 2 Quarter 3 Quarter 4 Total
NHS England 3 10 9 16 38
Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust 2 10 3 10 25
Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust 3 6 6 8 23
Steepers 0 2 0 0 2
Other clinical commissioning groups 0 1 0 1 2
Kernow CIC 0 3 2 2 7
UHP 1 1 3 1 6
DHSC 0 1 0 1 2
Cornwall Council 1 0 3 0 4
Multi-agency 1 0 1 3 5
Total 11 34 27 42 114

The above were passed to the provider to deal with. This allowed providers to investigate and respond to the concerns raised about their services and make changes, in line with the NHS standard contract. NHS Kernow also receives a copy of the response when requested by the person complaining or their representative and shared with the commissioning manager. If the complaint manager has any concerns about a complaint for a commissioned provider, they are escalated to the appropriate team. This allows for increased intelligence across the organisation and we may be able to resolve the issue at an earlier opportunity.

Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman

During the year the ombudsman approached NHS Kernow regarding 1 complaint. This is still in investigation. We cannot share the details of the complaint as it may identify the people involved.

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