Responding to complaints
The vast majority of our patients are happy with the care and treatment they receive. For those who aren’t, our staff are usually able to resolve problems and concerns there and then. But on occasion, there are issues that require a more detailed investigation or explanation. In these instances, patients will ask, or we will suggest, that the issue be treated as a formal complaint.
What kind of complaints does Moorfields receive?
In the first six months of 2014, Moorfields received 75 formal complaints. Most of these related to concerns around specific aspects of care or treatment outcomes. Although subsequent investigation showed that the patient was correctly treated in the majority of these cases, the fact that they made a complaint in the first place might suggest that we need to do more to ensure that all patients feel involved in decisions about the management of their condition, and that this is done in a way they understand.
We also received several complaints about appointments that had been cancelled, lost in the post or wrongly booked. Although we were able to resolve these issues quite quickly, explain our mistake and apologise for the inconvenience caused, we would prefer to prevent problems like these from arising in the first place.
There were also a number of complaints about poor staff attitude. These focused on what was perceived as unprofessional or insensitive behaviour by doctors, optometrists or reception staff. Although instances of this are low, and regardless of whether the behaviour was intended, this is not what we expect from our staff and we need to learn from such examples to improve matters for other patients in future.
Other complaints were to do with a variety of issues, including waiting times in clinics, poor communication and getting through on the telephone, with a couple relating to hospital transport.
What are we doing to respond?
We are committed to learning from the information we receive via complaints and to making improvements in response. Some of these will happen as part of larger-scale projects to address some of the underlying difficulties that result in patient dissatisfaction. These include our transformation programme which is looking at how we work on a day-to-day basis, and the Moorfields Way project, which brought patients and staff together to identify our shared values and the behaviours we would all like to see.
Other improvements that have taken place as a direct result of complaints relate to specific services, processes and practices and include:
- A dedicated clinic for patients with diabetic macular oedema (DMO) to reduce delays
- A review of how A&E patients are referred to clinic for a consultant opinion has been undertaken to reduce the delay in them being seen
- A revision of our process for booking post-operative appointments so that none is missed
- Improved pathways in pre-assessment following delays and communication problems
- A better environment at our eye unit at St Ann’s Hospital to ensure carers’ comfort during appointments
- New guidelines for the staff nurses in the pre-operative assessment clinic to clarify the referral process of electrocardiogram results for anaesthetic review
- A new referral form so that the macular degeneration injection administration team is better informed about the numbers of injections required by individual patients and the interval frequency for their booking
- A review of our procedure for processing individual funding requests for specialist treatment to make it more robust and ensure that patients are not left waiting for decisions
- Consultants in our eye centre at Moorfields Duke Elder Eye Unit at St George’s Hospital now speak directly to patients whose theatre slots are cancelled at short notice to explain why this has happened