Wales

Health complaints department 'in chaos' say Welsh Conservatives

The complaints department of Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board is in a "chaotic state", says the leader of the Welsh Conservatives.

It came after an email was sent to a complainant in error which said "yet again things have come to a point of meltdown".

Andrew RT Davies said it raised serious questions about how the health board deals with grievances.

The health board has apologised for any distress caused by the email.

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg is responsible for hospitals and health services in Swansea, Bridgend, Neath and Port Talbot.

The email, seen by BBC Wales, was sent out by mistake and contained details of staff appointments and pay as well as details of work being contracted out to former members of staff.

'Concerns'

"Surely a priority for any health board is to deal with complaints in a compassionate and efficient way and this email indicates the chaotic state of the complaints process at Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board (ABMU)," said Mr Davies.

"It raises serious questions about how the health board deals with grievances made by families at what is undoubtedly a distressing time for them.

"If the public are to have confidence in the process, these concerns must be addressed."

Mr Davies has tabled a question to Health Minister Mark Drakeford, asking about the monitoring procedures the Welsh government has in place to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of addressing patient complaints.

A spokesperson for the Welsh government said the minister will respond to Mr Davies' question "in due course".

'Staffing issues'

Last month, BBC Wales revealed calls for a public inquiry into standards of care at NHS hospitals following allegations that an elderly patient suffered serious neglect at two Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board hospitals.

Earlier this year, two nurses were arrested by police investigating allegations that patient notes had been faked "resulting in neglect" at Bridgend's Princess of Wales Hospital. Both have been released on police bail.

A spokesperson for the health board said the content of the email referred to the pressure of work in the 'Investigations and Redress Department'.

"One of the senior investigators in the department is now working full time in connection with the police investigation currently underway at the Princess of Wales Hospital.

"Along with other staffing issues, this means that staff in the department are working extremely hard."

The spokesperson said the email set out a course of action "to support the department to ensure that its normal course of work is not affected by the demands of the Princess of Wales Hospital investigation".

"We completely accept that dealing compassionately and positively with complaints is extremely important.

"Concerns raised about our services flag up where we need to do better, and that information is invaluable.

"We are also aware that we could improve the way we handle concerns raised and our responsiveness to learning from them."

The spokesperson added that changes had been made with "external expertise" being used to help improve the complaints systems.

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