A SENIOR nurse is leading a probe into hospital complaints, over fears patients’ concerns are going unanswered.

Tania Currie, deputy chief nurse at Great Western Hospital, has been commissioned to look at the quality of the responses from wards and departments following complaints from patients.

Between August and October 22 complaints had to be reopened at GWH. In October, the latest month for which details are available, complaints had to be reopened after patients said they felt questions had been left unanswered by the hospital. In one exceptional case, NHS England requested that a complaint against the radiology department was reopened.

Julie Marshman, chief nurse at the Marlborough Road NHS trust, told a board of directors meeting this month: “I do have a concern over the number of reopened complaints we’ve had. It does look like and feel like a bit of a deteriorating picture there.

“Mainly it feels poorer because the comments we have had from members of the public about why they are reopening their complaints. They don’t feel like we’ve answered the concern raised.”

Tania Currie had been asked to review any outstanding complaints to check why the relevant areas of the hospital had not replied more promptly, Ms Marshman said.

She added that Ms Currie would be checking that staff dealing with complaints were following hospital policies: “It is absolutely one of our policies that when we receive complaints we make contact by telephone or if it’s more complex invite them in for a meeting.”

A report on the outcome of the probe would be brought before GWH directors in coming months.

Dr Nicholas Bishop, a non-executive director at GWH, sought assurances that complainants were talked-through the formal response to their complaints before it is sent back to them.

“In my experience elsewhere, often it’s not obvious what it is the complainant wants done. So, that’s maybe a reason why the answer doesn’t meet their expectations.”

In October, 181 concerns and complaints were received by the hospital’s patient advice and liaison service. Most of the complaints concerned the behaviour or attitude of staff, communications, waiting times and the quality of clinical care.

The emergency department was the area of the hospital that received the highest number of complaints. 13 people lodged concerns or complaints. General surgery was the subject of nine complaints or concerns.