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December 20, 2009

Dr Phil’s Private Eye Column, Issue 1252, December 20, 2009
Filed under: Private Eye — Tags: — Dr. Phil @ 10:11 am

NHS Choices Feedback


The health service has ended the year with a health secretary out of his depth, two headless regulators and the threat of crippling financial cuts.  However, it does at least now have a facility for patients to feedback their experiences in NHS and private hospitals to enable others to make better choices about where they’re treated. Eye reader Alison Wilson recently posted feedback on the NHS Choices website about the care she received at North Staffordshire Nuffield at Newcastle-under-Lyme. Her message was:
Liked …
The staff in outpatients were kind and understanding, as were one or two of the staff on the ward.
The catering staff were very cheerful, kind and helpful.
My surgeon was excellent.

Disliked …
Attitude of most of the staff was offhand
Drug safety (prescribed a drug to which I am allergic, drugs missed, staff not knowing how the morphine syringe worked)
Poor cleanliness of facilities – and of me (as a patient who was unable to do much for myself)
General neglect, including neglect of some essential instructions from my consultant.
Found crying in bed by a visitor, where I had been for more than an hour, no-one on the staff had noticed as no-one had been in my room for hours despite me fainting the day before.
Staff failed on a number of basic tasks, leading me to unnecessary discomfort and suffering which I could have done without.
I needed some advice on aftercare at home, (I had had abdominal surgery) but was given none at all despite asking two members of staff for it.
When I rang up as I was bleeding at home, I got the brush off twice on the phone before being called back to the hospital.
Left hospital after five days in great distress with bedsores, a dressing which had to be removed and changed at home because it had been put on incorrectly, sore hands due to errors with a cannula, and a wound infection (wound still needed treatment a year later)

Anything Else …

Under pressure from my insurer, I did make a formal complaint about my care a year ago. Since that time I have received (late) one sarcastic letter from the hospital, which I found very distressing, but despite me writing to them to say so, they have never replied.

The response from NHS Choices was decisive. ‘Thank you for your contribution to the  website. We have removed your contribution because it is a serious complaint about a specific hospital, service and/or clinician which should first be addressed by the relevant hospital. We suggest in the first instance you contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS).  They offer: – confidential advice and support to families and their carers, – information on the NHS and health-related matters, – confidential assistance in resolving problems and concerns quickly, – explanations of complaints procedures and how to get in touch with someone who can help, and – information on how you can get more involved in your own healthcare. To find your PALS office, search for your hospital on and go to the Facilities and Patient Support tab. If you want to make a complaint, please see:

So, not only are NHS Choices censoring critical comments from patients but are not bothering to read submissions either. Ms Wilson had already made a formal complaint and isn’t entitled to the NHS support they suggest. Also, you are not supposed to post comments on the website about care you received if it is more than 18 months ago. But if critical comments are censored and redirected through the complaints procedure, possibly ending up with the ombudsman or legal action, this generally tales longer than 18 months. A neat way of ensuring all the ‘independent patient feedback’ is overwhelmingly positive.