2,500 responses describing lack of care and compassion, and deep dissatisfaction with the way in which complaints had been handled were received by a review looking into the way the NHS handles complaints.
The independent report, commissioned by the prime minister and health secretary Jeremy Hunt, follows the failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust and reflects on a "decade of failure" to reform how complaints are handled.
It also heard from people who hadn't complained because they found the process too confusing or feared for their future care.
Securing undertakings from various health organisations, the review says the "drivers for change" will be via consumer power, in the form of consumer and patient bodies that'll oversee and monitor the implementation of recommendations. MP Ann Clwyd, one of the review's chairs, said: "our proposals put patients firmly into the driving seat at every level as never before, and we now expect to see progress within 12 months’ time."
Mike Richards, the chief inspector of hospitals, has agreed to make complaints a central part of Care Quality Commission inspections, and major players in the NHS, ranging from the General Medical Council to the Royal College of Nursing, have signed up to 30 actions to improve the complaints culture of the NHS. Tricia Hart, chief executive of South Tees Hospital NHS Foundation Trust commented: "We need a fundamental change in culture and we need transparency... But most of all we need action – and that is what sets today’s report apart."
The report will be considered by the government, which will respond later in the Autumn.