A report by the Healthcare Commission has revealed that one in five NHS complaints sent for independent review in England are about treatment or a wrong diagnosis.
The Commission reviews cases where people are unhappy with the response they receive from an NHS trust following a complaint. It reviewed 7,827 such cases in 2007/08, along with 1,112 unresolved complaints from the previous year.
Treatment given to patients accounted for 11% (984) of the cases, 9% (805) were about a delay in diagnosing a condition or a wrong diagnosis and 8% (715) were about accessing treatment or being forced to wait.
Others involved the attitude of NHS staff (6%), communication and the information the patient received (12%), and the way a complaint was handled by the trust (19%).
The Commission said that almost 50% of the total complaints were upheld or were sent back to the trust for further work because the initial response was not good enough, and concluded that the NHS "still has much room for improvement in how it deals with complaints locally".
The complaints were fairly equally divided between primary care and hospital care (43% each), and there were 1,018 complaints about GPs overall.
However, the Commission said these must be seen in the context of about 290 million consultations made by GPs each year in England.