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Welsh NHS Confederation comments on Committee inquiry into NHS complaints

The Director of the Welsh NHS Confederation, Helen Birtwhistle, said: “While it is important to highlight that the majority of people who receive care and treatment from the NHS in Wales have a positive experience, we recognise this is not the case for all patients.

“The number of complaints received stands at less than 0.1% of all patient contact with the health service. But it is vital to remember that this still represents a large number of people and we cannot be complacent. Behind each complaint is an individual and their family who feel the care they received did not stand up to expectations.

“The NHS in Wales is committed to and focused on patient experience. When care does not meet the high standards which patients deserve, we must listen, learn and take action. To do this successfully, we must have a complaints system that is clear, consistent and easy to navigate. 

“We know from Keith Evans’ review that further work is needed in this area and those in NHS Wales are committed to improving the way that they handle concerns and to see them as an opportunity to improve services, as we have seen from the evidence provided by Health Board representatives to the Health and Social Care Committee . 

“The review stated that complaints should be seen as a ‘gift’ and we wholeheartedly agree. The feedback and experiences – both good and bad - of patients and their families are critical in helping NHS Wales to provide the compassionate and high quality care that it strives to deliver on a daily basis. 

“We must proactively foster a culture of openness and transparency where patients, their families and staff feel at ease and supported to raise any concerns they may have. No one should be made to feel uncomfortable about making a complaint. They must feel listened to and not sidelined by procedures that have been designed to help them.” 

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