NHS ombudsman encourages Asian women to complain

24 Sep 14
The health service ombudsman is encouraging South Asian and Muslim women to complain when they’ve received poor service from the NHS.

Research carried out by the ombudsman found that Asian people were less likely to voice grievances about NHS treatment than white British women. Its data showed that only 5.7% of people who made an enquiry to the ombudsman about an NHS complaint were Asian, even though 7% of the English population came from this ethnic group. In contrast, 88% of people who contacted the watchdog were white British where 80% of the English population is white British. 

The ombudsman said this group’s reluctance to complain stemmed from fears that they would face repercussions from NHS staff. South Asian and Muslim women who complained to the NHS told the ombudsman that they were made to feel ‘inferior’ and that they ‘were in the wrong for complaining’.

Ombudsman Julie Mellor said she was ‘worried’ that South Asian and Muslim women voices were going unheard. She noted that almost 4 out of 10 of people that are unhappy with public services do not raise a complaint, ‘because they do not believe it will make a difference’.

Mellor said: ‘We want South Asian and Muslim women to feel confident in making a complaint about their NHS treatment and to know that complaining can make a difference.’

The ombudsman has therefore called on parliament, government and public services to all work together ‘for complaints to make a difference’. It added that: ‘In order to make things better, public services need to learn from complaints, and parliament needs information and evidence about big or repeated mistakes by public services.’

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman investigates complaints that individuals have been treated unfairly or have received poor service from the NHS in England. It is the final stage in the complaints process after a complaint has been logged with the NHS.

As part of an outreach campaign launched today, the ombudsman service is sending out 25,000 leaflets in five different South Asian languages, explaining how to complain about the NHS.



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