Service complaints to HSE increased by 63% in 2009

COMPLAINTS by service users to the HSE in 2009 increased by 63% on the previous year because of the “success” the executive’s complaints procedures, according to figures circulated yesterday.

However, the “substantial increase shows that our work to promote knowledge of this policy and service has been a success and more people can access the complaints process and feel able to make complaints”, according to an HSE statement yesterday.

The HSE has set a target response time to complaints of 30 days, while 79% of the 7,984 complaints received in 2009 were addressed within the 30-day period.

Last year, only 2% of complainants were unhappy with the response they received from local investigation and requested a review of their complaint, said the statement.

The same percentage as in 2008, this revealed that despite the increase in complaints made in 2009, the “standard of response and level of satisfaction with the process is consistent”.

The figures were released yesterday, day one of a week-long awareness campaign in relation to its comments and complaints policy and procedure, which is “aimed at all service users and their relatives”.

According to an HSE statement yesterday, “all service users have a right under the Health Act to comment or complain about a public health service”. The HSE said it is “telling all those attending our services that, ‘We want to hear from you’”.

Comments and feedback from the public “enables the HSE to continually improve and develop its services to meet the needs” of its clients, while the campaign will last until Friday, said the statement.

Director of Advocacy with HSE, Mary Culliton, said: “We want to focus attention on the importance of giving [their] feedback, whether it is positive or negative, and to ensure everyone knows how to give that feedback.

“We want to hear from you, and we want you to know that by having your say, you can make a difference to the health system.

“Information on how to make a comment or complaint is widely available throughout our health service locations,” said Ms Culliton.

“Every healthcare system in the world experiences adverse incidents, and they can never be completely eradicated, but what we need to focus on is how we learn from incidents that occur to improve patient safety and the healthcare system generally.”

The HSE’s comments and complaints policy, Your Service, Your Say, came into effect on January 1, 2007 and invites all health service users to have their say about their experience of the health services, and about how services have been delivered.

* Complaints can be made in a number of ways, such as contacting 1850 24 1850 or emailing


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