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‘Nuisance’ backed by patients’ lobby
A PATIENT branded a nuisance complainer who felt he was treated like a ‘naughty child’ has gained the support of a leading patient group to change NHS complaint rules.
Andrew Brown of St John’s, Worcester, was given ‘vexatious complainant’ status after he made complaints about the standard of care he received at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
He appealed against the status applied to him by Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and it was removed. But he has continued to campaign for the rewording of the trust’s complaints policy.
He objected to people being given vexatious status for “invoking their MP” or for so-called ‘attention-seeking behaviour’ as he believes patients have the right to seek support from their MP if they have a genuine grievance about care.
Sarah Coles, a helpline advisor for the Patients Association, wrote to Mr Brown to say: “I can confirm we will be investigating other NHS trust complaints policies as we remain especially concerned about members of the public being labelled ‘vexatious complainants’ if they wish to report poor NHS healthcare and contact their local MP for additional support.
“We strongly believe it is important patients are listened to and they have the confidence in the system when complaining.
“I will be researching other NHS trust policies relating to this particular topic. We hope to be able to provide you with a more detailed response in the next few days.”
Mr Brown said: “I am very pleased the Patients Association are interested in this issue. I hope Worcester will in due course remove this provision from their complaints policy because it reveals a philosophy which is potentially disparaging of patient concerns and is patronising, describing patients that speak out as ‘attention seeking behaviour’ as though they were naughty children.”
We have already reported how Mr Brown was dubbed a vexatious complainant, which meant the trust would no longer deal with his complaints, after he made complaints about the way he was examined using a nasal endoscope without local anaesthetic. However, seven months later, the status was removed after the trust wrote to him to say his appeal against the status had been accepted.
Mr Brown also wrote to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, last month about the issue but has yet to receive a reply.
A trust spokesman said: “We currently have no patients deemed vexatious and this is something that occurs rarely.
“We are reviewing our complaints policy to reflect best practice.”