Almost 7,000 complaints lodged with the HSE last year
COMPLAINTS about patient safety and waiting times topped the list of formal grievances which were recorded across the HSE, it has been revealed.
New figures show the HSE dealt with 6,823 matters lodged through its statutory complaints process last year, a slight rise of 0.15pc since 2012. The complaints far outnumbered the 4,019 compliments it received.
A breakdown of the complaints shows that 1,632 were about safe and effective care, with another 1,622 relating to problems accessing treatment because of waiting lists.
Difficulties with communication and information by staff also ranked high, generating 1,046 complaints. Another 720 people who went through the process raised issues of problems with dignity and respect.
Others included accountability (217), clinical judgment (113) and privacy (68).
There were 162 problems with pre-school inspection services and 30 related to nursing homes and residential care for the elderly. Although the HSE is obliged to have the complaint resolved within 30 working days, this was not achieved in around one in three cases, the HSE's annual report revealed.
Meanwhile, voluntary hospitals and agencies, which are funded by the HSE, received 5,573 complaints and 9,110 compliments.
Around one in four were dealt with within 30 working days. Waiting lists, safety and communication problems again topped the list of grievances.
The HSE said it was encouraging all staff to record compliments to allow it to "capture data on the positive aspects of our services and learn from what is working well".
The HSE's director-general, Tony O'Brien, said the service did not always get everything right but must continue to learn from mistakes.
He said the HSE was continuing to implement the findings of reports including the investigation into the death of Savita Halappanavar at Galway University Hospital.
At the end of December 2013, the health sector employed 99,959 full time staff – 1,021 above the end-of-year approved employment ceiling. Since employment levels peaked in 2007, the health sector has lost 12,812 staff.
Meanwhile, the report shows that Mr O'Brien earned €190,000 in 2013 and he claimed more than €10,000 in expenses.