Making a complaint to NHS trusts is overly complex and will probably result in nothing being done, according to a survey of healthcare users.
The report said handling of complaints takes too long, people are not always sure who to complain to and there is a lack of learning across the NHS when things go wrong.
Just 5% of people who are dissatisfied with their NHS care lodge a formal complaint.
Karen Taylor, from the National Audit Office (NAO), which compiled the study, said: "The main reason people don't complain, whether in NHS or social care, is that they don't think anything will be done as a result."
Ms Taylor said the NHS and the social care system faced challenges over the introduction of a new regulator – the Care Quality Commission – next year, when a single complaints system also comes into force.
From next April, the Healthcare Commission will cease to exist and will no longer act as the independent reviewer of complaints that have not been resolved to the patient's satisfaction by their local hospital trust.
Instead, more emphasis will be placed on hospitals successfully resolving complaints at a local level, with the health ombudsman acting as the "second stage" for independent review.
Copyright © PA Business 2008
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