MORE than 700 written complaints have been made against Sunderland hospitals in the past year, according to new figures.
City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust (CHS) received a total of 721 complaints, the highest of any North-East hospitals.
The figures, released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, show that there were 3,742 complaints between April 2013 and March this year against hospital and community health services.
A grieving family whose relative died following a blunder at the Royal today hit out at the figures.
Joanne Knebel and partner Danny McQuade complained to City Hospitals Sunderland after Danny’s mum Patricia died at the royal in May.
The family of 66-year-old great-grandmother Mrs McQuade, who lived in Roker, were told just hours before she died that she’d developed a tumour on her left lung months before.
Mrs McQuade was originally admitted to the Royal after a fall last September, but despite an x-ray showing the cancer, it was not acted upon after medics failed to tell each other.
Speaking about the number of complaints against the trust, Joanne, of Red House, said: “It’s an absolute disgrace.
“Another thing I feel is that they don’t take complaints seriously enough.
“We had to get our MP and the Department of Health involved before we got anywhere and once we did, we were getting replies to emails we’d sent within an hour.”
City Hospitals Sunderland has since apologised to Mrs McQuade’s family following an investigation into her death. The North East Ambulance Service had 444 written complaints about its work, which is among the highest for ambulance trusts in the country.
A spokesman for City Hospitals Sunderland said: “The trust in the last year has seen an increase in the number of complaints it receives, which is still relatively small to the volume of activity/patient contacts that are undertaken – less than one per cent.
“We actively encourage feedback and complaints so that we can learn from our mistakes, improve practice but, more importantly, initiate changes to ensure patients receive a better experience.” Kingsley Manning, chairman of the Health and Social Care Information Centre, said: “Our latest figures show that the NHS is receiving a large number of written complaints each day. I’m sure staff who manage NHS complaints will want to pay close attention to these statistics.”