Complaints about hospitals and community health services in Scotland have risen by 13 per cent over the past year, new figures show.
There were 9,161 complaints about hospitals and community services - such as health visiting, specialist nursing and addiction services - in 2012/13, up from 8,117 in 2011/12, according to official statistics.
This follows a 15 per cent increase between 2010/11 and 2011/12.
In 2012/13, 28 per cent of these complaints were fully upheld, 35 per cent were partially upheld and 36 per cent were not upheld. Between 2011/12 and 2012/13, the number of complaints upheld or partially upheld has increased by 17 per cent.
There were almost 4,000 complaints about family health services, such as GPs, dentists, opticians and pharmacists, and just over 1,200 complaints relating to special health boards, and national and support organisations.
The latter was a 31 per cent increase on 2011/12 figures, and includes a rise in the number of complaints to the Scottish Ambulance Service, from 214 in 2011/12 to 412 during 2012/13.
Complaints to the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service rose by 31 per cent, from 231 in 2011/12 to 302 in 2012/13.
The number of complaints to National Waiting Times Centre, NHS24, and the State Hospital Board for Scotland all decreased in 2012/13.
Health Secretary Alex Neil said: “Our health service does a fantastic job in the overwhelming number of cases. To give this some perspective, the NHS in Scotland oversees an estimated 24 million GP or practice nurse consultations, over 4.5 million hospital outpatient appointments and 1.65 million A&E visits each year.
“But, in an organisation of this size, care can sometimes fall below the standards we all demand. In those cases I want to encourage patients to give us feedback, whether good or bad, so that health boards can continually improve the care they provide. These statistics demonstrate this is happening.
“That is in line with the Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011, which was introduced in April last year and provides the legal right to complain, or give feedback or comments.”
He added: “It is important to note that this release is the first time that complaints in relation to pharmacies and opticians services are included.
“Boards are also more proactively promoting the complaints procedure and encouraging feedback. More staff are now aware of what constitutes a complaint and data collection has improved.
“This is all in line with our commitment to shine a light on areas where things go wrong and, crucially, learn lessons. Earlier this year, I also announced the roll out of the patient opinion website across Scotland, so that we could hear patient stories first hand, whether good or bad, because it helps to make our health services better.
“I have been very clear that health boards should fully investigate complaints and demonstrate that action has been taken as a result, to resolve any issues and ensure they do not happen again.”