Almost 7 million people in England who have accessed health and social care services in the last five years have had concerns about their care, but never raised them, research by the Care Quality Commission has found.
More than half, 58%, of these people regretted not doing so.
The most common reasons for not raising a concern were not knowing how (20%) or who (33%) to raise it with, not wanting to be seen as a ‘troublemaker’ (33%) and worries about not being taken seriously (28%). Over a third of people (37%) felt that nothing would change as a result.
However, when people did raise a concern or complaint, the majority (66%) found their issue was resolved quickly, it helped the service to improve and they were happy with the outcome.
On the back of these findings, the CQC has launched a new campaign entitled Declare Your Care, to encourage people to speak up about their experiences of care and to improve standards of care in England.
The majority of people who did raise a concern or complaint were motivated by a desire to make sure that care improved for others. This included wanting to improve the care they, or a loved one, had received (61%) and improve care for everyone using the service (55%) with a smaller number also hoping for an apology or explanation (26%).
The main reasons given for raising, or wanting to raise a concern, were delays to a service or appointment, lack of information and poor patient care.
Additionally, over a fifth indicated that they have raised or wanted to raise concerns about the lack of communication between health and care services.
As part of the research, 2,002 people who had experienced care in the past five years were interviewed between 29 November and 14 December 2018. The full data is here.
Ian Trenholm, chief executive at the CQC said: “Our annual State of Care report shows that most people are getting good care, a real testament to the hard work of the many people working across Health and Social Care in this country.
“We know that when people raise a concern they have a genuine desire to improve the service for themselves and others. We also know that the majority of services really appreciate this feedback and make positive changes, as this new research shows.
“Hearing from people about their experiences of care is an important part of our inspection work and contributes to driving improvements in standards of care. Everyone can play a part in improving care by directly giving feedback to services, or by sharing information and experiences with us so that we can take action when we find poor care. Sharing your experience also enables us to highlight the many great examples of care we see.”
Minister of State for Care, Caroline Dinenage said: “We want the NHS and social care system to provide the safest, most compassionate care in the world. This means encouraging patients to speak up with concerns, ensuring we act on them and learning from what happened so we can do better in future.
“That’s why I encourage anyone who has concerns over their care, or the care of loved ones, to share their experiences with the Care Quality Commission – so they can continue their vital work of protecting patients and improving the excellent care we see across the health service.”