The stories in the Speaking Up series are being created as part of a Health Foundation project aimed at assessing new approaches to complaints handling.
Invisible. That is how Sue felt her friend Billy had been in hospital. And how she felt she became when, after Billy’s death, she tried to complain about his care. Did the complaints system treat her as invisible because she was just a friend, but not a relative? Was it because they hoped she and her complaint would just go away? She wanted Billy’s story to be heard but, in the end, she had to go to the Ombudsman before she felt acknowledged and received an apology from the Trust.
I don’t want it to happen to anyone else
After a long struggle with alcohol problems, Paul has to have emergency surgery for a perforated bowel. The perforated bowel doesn’t kill him – in fact he feels the episode helps him address his alcohol issues – but it leaves him with a stoma. A year later, when he wants to move on, get fit again, get back to work, he chooses to have the stoma reversed. The surgery and aftercare don’t go well for Paul, leaving him contorted in pain and wanting more pain relief than was provided. Unfortunately it also leaves him with a parastomal hernia that will need further surgery to repair, and a series of questions about the standard of his care. After failing to get the sort of answers or reassurance he wants through the complaints system, he opts to go to a different hospital to have the hernia fixed.
The hospital that didn’t listen
When Francis attempts to provide feedback on a potential safety issue to a hospital, he meets a system that cannot, or will not, respond until he has raised a formal complaint. His experience of other organisations is that they are more responsive to feedback., and he questions whether this lack of response is an indicator of an inability to manage complaints effectively.