News of soaring complaints being made against NHS Lothian is not entirely unexpected. After all, the 20 per cent rise came in a year which chief executive Tim Davison described as an “annus horribilis”.
From the high-profile waiting times scandal to operations being interrupted by power failures and the over-stretched ERI bursting at the seams, it would be surprising indeed if there was not a public backlash.
Of the 3842 complaints lodged, many may be the result of the above but it also must be put in proportion. We know the vast majority of patients who use NHS Lothian services have a good experience, treated by professional and dedicated staff.
Nevertheless, the news of more than ten formal complaints a day being submitted is still, as the board admits, a “matter of serious concern”.
These are not just grumps and moans, they have involved the patient or relative taking the time to contact the complaints team as they feel so strongly about their experience.
There is a real desire within NHS Lothian to improve and many initiatives are under way under Mr Davison to start putting things right.
The test of how successful this has been will come in the complaint figures in years to come.
Despite the rising patient numbers, the NHS Lothian top brass will be expecting to see a drop as their efforts bear fruit and the experience for patients is improved.
The report for 2012 was never going to make happy reading. The biggest complaint of all will be if the situation does not improve.
Help is in store
Independent stores are the lifeblood of high streets up and down the country. They provide essential goods and services and are a place for community and togetherness.
However, running a small business is typically a full-on commitment, which is why today’s announcement of a new “Shop Doctor” scheme is especially welcome.
A pilot in East Lothian will see business owners receive guidance on how to prepare their store better – whether its lighting, signage or merchandising – and look at their online offering.
This kind of support will be valuable to some small traders as they struggle to compete against supermarkets, multiples and the internet.
Most of us love the value we get from supermarkets, but we should also cherish the individuality and service that we get from local businesses who are under greater threat than ever.