Investigations into ‘devastating’ failures by public services that have led to patient deaths, suffering and financial hardship have been published today by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
The watchodg has made publicly available details of a raft of complaints about the NHS that include a number of failures to spot serious illnesses.
In one case, University Hospitals Birmingham Trust misdiagnosed a man as having a blood clot when he actually had a tear in the blood vessel from his heart to his body.
Medics missed opportunities to save his life and the trust was ordered to pay his wife £2,000, the files show.
Complaints about government departments are also among the records, including the case of a teenager who fled to Britain seeking asylum but was left in limbo without legal status for a decade as he waited for the Home Office to deal with his case.
The man’s educational and work opportunities were severely affected and the Home Office was told to pay him £7,500 as an apology for its serious mistakes.
Details of 81 investigations the ombudsman has completed are now being made available for the public to search online.
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Dame Julie Mellor said: “Our investigations highlight the devastating impact that failures in public services can have on the lives of individuals and their families.
“For the first time MPs, members of the public and service providers will be able to go online and see the types of complaints we have investigated. This will help MPs to see what complaints have been made about public services in their constituency and will help provide confidence to people to complain when they see what happened to other people.
“We are modernising the way we do things so we can help more people with their complaints and to help bodies in jurisdiction learn from mistakes other organisations have made to help them decide what action to improve their services.
“We will continue to work with others including consumer groups, public service regulators and Parliament, using the insight from our casework to help others make a real difference in public sector complaint handling and improve services.”
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “Listening to patients is one of the best ways to improve standards and we welcome this increased transparency around complaints. Hospitals should make sure patients, their families and carers know how to complain, including displaying information on the complaints system in every ward.”
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “People often don’t complain about public services because they think their feedback will not be heard or acted upon, so publishing the results of investigations should give people more confidence that their complaints count.
“The complaints system across public services should be overhauled so people can more easily speak up and feel confident their feedback will trigger action.”