By Nicola Davies
I’ve just had the joy that is the new complaints spreadsheet return. Well, there’s an hour or two of my life that I won’t get back. What a complete load of old tosh!
As a relic of primary care, I’m used to form-filling, tick-boxing, filling out endless surveys… and I appreciate that there is a need to evaluate complaints, look at what we did, why there was the complaint, but the old system of the total number and how many were admin versus clinical was easy.
It was a quick return that didn’t take too long – it was filled in, signed, scanned and sent, leaving me free to move on to other (more important) things. I’m not a fan, have you noticed?
I understand that it is necessary to whittle down your complaints into little compartments, deciding whether the admin complaint was about a prescription (an error, the wrong drug, the wrong dosage or just a delay in generating) or whether it was about surgery opening times, or the fact that your receptionist might have had a cob on that day and was particularly Draconian, but if I’m filling in any spreadsheet, I’d really like to be able to see the whole spreadsheet on one screen – call me old-fashioned!
The new KO14b (doesn’t THAT just roll off the tongue) had 84 columns, yes 84, how old was the patient? Where did it happen? What treatment classification? Admin error? Appointment availability (including phoning in), and so the list went on, and on, and on…
The spreadsheet does cover everyone – so treatment centres, NHS111, prisons/detention centres can all use the same one – and at least then some poor soul somewhere can sit at their PC and calculate ALL of the figures to find out how awful we all are across the gamut of NHS services because, let’s be honest here, no-one is asking us for our ‘compliments’ figures are they? The number of letters and cards we get from patients and their families (and some tourists!) outweighs the number of complaints we have – which is great. However, nobody ever wants to hear how good you are at something, or how well you treated a patient, or how grateful someone was when you went over and above the call of duty to help them out, because that’s just not British enough is it?
We’re all for hearing the worst. Jeremy Vine gets the rough end of my tongue if he ever has a session on GP surgeries – because you only ever get to hear one side – and I sit in my car, shouting at the radio like some mad woman. You can imagine, can’t you? They’re complaining they can’t get an appointment for four days, but fail to give the full story… “Actually, Jeremy, I really just wanted to be seen because I’ve had this ingrowing toenail for two days and I can’t get my Jimmy Choo’s on” or ”I wanted this growth seeing to on my hand but the receptionist said no”, when we know that what was actually requested was an appointment for cautery to a wart which we no longer do, and in any case, it definitely isn’t urgent – even if we did do it!
And we all know, if you have a bad experience somewhere, you tell 10 people – but a great experience, and you’ll only tell one person! Think about the last time you had a good or bad experience at a restaurant – it’s rare that we share the good stuff – and we flippin’ well ought to!
Not content with having to tick all of these boxes, there was still the issue of submitting it online. The damn thing wouldn’t go through first time via the web-page link we were given. Mine came back twice with errors – I had managed to leave a box blank when it needed a zero (sackable offence probably) and then it wouldn’t go, probably because the site couldn’t cope. So, I put it down, went back to it, tried again – and again, and then finally it did work – but what a complete pain in the backside! Interestingly, there is no column to tick for “How many times did you try to submit this and fail?”
On the plus side, it’s only once a year and if it went really well, what would I have to complain about?!
By Nicola Davies
Helpful: You can now quickly and easily log, update and track your complaints throughout the year with the new KO14b Complaints Log Toolkit [PLUS]
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