NAO: Complaints system easier to navigate in adult care than NHS

People in England find it easier to make complaints through the adult social care system than the NHS but a number of improvements still need to be made, a National Audit Office report said last week.

The investigation of both complaints systems found that people dissatisfied with adult care were more likely to know how to complain and consequently do so, compared with those dissatisfied with NHS services.

The NAO survey of people who had used NHS and adult social care services in the past three years found that around 14% were in some way dissatisfied with their experience. Of these, only 5% of people who were dissatisfied with the NHS went on to make a formal complaint compared to one third for adult care.

Lack of advocacy

However, the NAO found the adult care system offered few complainants an advocacy service and there was limited evidence that lessons had been learned and that services had improved as a result of complaints. It also found there was a lack of monitoring of satisfaction with handling outcomes, and concluded that people who received domiciliary or residential care needed to have a stronger voice in the system.

Responding to the report, Lizzie McLennan, senior social care policy officer at Help the Aged, said it showed that “complaining about health and social care services can be a difficult and complex experience” and called for more transparency in the systems.

Mencap chief executive Jo Williams said it was vital that complaints systems were accessible to all service users, adding: “If the general population find it hard to navigate the current complaints system with no support, for people with a learning disability it is virtually impossible.”
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