THE NHS is currently receiving a bit of a battering from all angles.
Whether it be the press or the public, the health service is currently more under the microscope than it has in a long time.
On the back of massive care gaps by Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, even Burton’s Queen’s Hospital is now being investigated over its high mortality rate.
However, although problems are at breaking point and faults are apparent, there is another side to the story.
West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) has revealed that it received more than 100 letters of thanks from grateful patients, family members and carers who have benefitted from the hard work of staff.
• “I would like to thank the ambulance crew who came so promptly.
• “They were there before my friend had put the phone down.
• “They saved my life and I will never forget them and will be forever grateful. Bless you all”
• “Thanks for superbly looking after my mother who was in a lot of pain on Friday. One of your guys came out, he was so kind.”
• “My husband collapsed and from the moment I phoned for an ambulance till we got to hospital, we couldn’t have had better care and consideration.”
• “The 999 ambulance staff were superb, it was the fastest, most efficient experience I have ever witnessed.”
• “My father collapsed and unfortunately passed away recently. When I arrived at my parent’s house the paramedic was comforting my mother. He was sensitive but in a respectful and dignified manner. He was committed to the quality of care and had such a compassionate attitude.”
• “Thanks to the ambulance staff for all they did in early this morning.”
The service is now urging others to get in touch whether it be good or bad feedback.
Director of nursing and quality, Sandy Brown, said: “Every time we get a message of thanks, we make sure that we pass them onto the individual staff.
“From speaking to them, I know just how much they appreciate the time that people have taken to send their thanks – it makes it all worthwhile for them.
“However, we are also just as aware that the service we provide doesn’t always go perfectly and that this sometimes leads to people raising concerns.
“In many ways, these are just as important to the trust as we can always learn something from them.
“Often the greatest achievements come from the learning an organisation makes as a result of when something has gone wrong which is why we go into each one in so much detail.”
The service revealed that only 0.04 per cent of calls result in a complaint (227 out of 850,000 calls in 2011-12).
Mrs Brown added: “We have always investigated any form of concern or complaint rigorously.
“We ensure all relevant parties are interviewed as part of the investigation so that we can look at what happened - see whether the complaint is justified; and if it was, look at what we can do to avoid the same thing happening again.
“Only about 40 per cent of complaints are justified, a figure that is backed up by the independent Ombudsman.
“The one thing we are absolutely determined not to do is become complacent because the numbers are small.
“Quite the opposite, we are unwavering in our commitment to work hard to reduce these still further.”
To help the service make sure it responds to compliments or complaints, it asks for certain pieces of information:
• Name and contact details;
• Names of the staff involved (if known);
• Date and time of the incident;
• Location of the incident, even if approximate;
• What happened.
WMAS can be contacted by writing to The Patient Experience Team, West Midlands Ambulance Service Headquarters, Waterfront Business Park, Brierley Hill, DY5 1LX.
People can also call 01384 246 370, email email@example.com or post on social networking sites by logging onto www.facebook.com and searching for OfficialWMAS or heading to www.twitter.com/OFFICIALWMAS
They can also leave comments via the website ‘Patient Opinion’, which is an independent site.
More information is available by visiting www.patientopinion.org.uk