£160,000 ‘wasted’ on NHS feedback website

Funding to help the NHS in Scotland respond to complaints from patients has been branded a waste of money. Picture: PA
Funding to help the NHS in Scotland respond to complaints from patients has been branded a waste of money. Picture: PA
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FUNDING to help the NHS in Scotland respond to complaints from patients has been branded a waste of money after figures showed few improvements had been made to services as a result.

In March the Scottish Government announced it was investing £160,000 so health boards could deal with comments – both good and bad – submitted to the independent Patient Opinion website.

But figures show that out of more than 1,100 comments on the site in the past six years, only 32 have led to changes being made to services.

Patients’ groups and opposition politicians said the NHS should be dealing with the concerns raised by patients from within its own budgets, saying the extra funding was unnecessary.

Complaints submitted in the past week alone include a woman so traumatised by her experience of giving birth in a Scottish hospital that she said she would never have another child, and a diabetic who had failed to get a response from clinicians over concerns about how much insulin they should be using.

Patient Opinion, launched in 2005, allows the public to submit comments about their experiences of the NHS to the website to be published online.

The website then contacts the relevant NHS staff to alert them to the comment so they can respond and make any changes that might be required.

Gina Alexander, Patient Opinion lead for Scotland, said that while Scottish patients had been posting comments since its launch, most had been submitted in the past two years after promotion of the service north of the Border. Since the Scottish Government put extra funding into the site in March, the number of stories submitted has increased by around 15 per cent, she added.

Some critics of the Patient Opinion scheme expressed concern that boards should need extra money to respond to issues they should be handling anyway, and that so few had led to improvements.

Jackson Carlaw, Scottish Tory health spokesman, said: “This is just another example of the Scottish Government throwing money at something which should be dealt with as a matter of course.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Patient Opinion is an additional way for patients to share their healthcare experiences, good or bad, and adds to the existing feedback process.”