As part of our #MyBTH campaign, we are highlighting individuals, teams or services that have an important role within the Trust.
Here we look at the role of the Patient Relations team…
The Patient Relations team work from a small room off the mezzanine floor of the hospital and are part of the Patient Experience department.
The four members of the team deal with informal and formal complaints, bereavement support and also provide a patient advice and relations service.
There are around five and a half thousand queries each year which may also have further questions within each case. These could range from a concern about a relative’s treatment on the Ward, a District Nurse visit or a grieving family who need support and advice.
The team is contacted by phone and email and patients can also knock on their door for help.
Most of the time, patients and relatives just want to be listened to. The team are on hand within normal business hours to talk to anyone in a confidential environment who has concerns.
Team leader, Wendy Tandy, has worked in the department for 11 years. She said: “Here at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation trust, we encourage people to complain if they deem it necessary. If we don’t know about a situation, we certainly can’t change anything.”
The members of the team have all come from careers that are based around people. The job is most certainly one for people with a calm personality – a special type of person.
Wendy said: “We have all worked in challenging situations previously through various roles. You can just tell when someone has the right disposition for the job which can, at times, be demanding, complex and stressful. Not everyone would be able to handle the job.”
Queries, concerns and complaints come via email, by letter and the telephone. The Patient Relations Team are the link between the patient, the Division and the Chief Executive and are always patient focused.
Wendy said: “It is OK to complain. It’s how we respond to a complainant that matters.”
Some of the more complex complaints can also involve other services like a patient’s GP, Ambulance Service or Social Service and the team will bring everything together to provide one response to the patient or their relative.
Informal Concerns can be dealt with quite easily and this will involve the team member contacting Trust staff both within the hospital setting and the community to help resolve issues which are generally stem from a patient’s confusion or worry about their treatment.
Formal complaints are more structured and require a full investigation which can take between 25 and 35 days to complete. The team are part of a Joint Protocol with other agencies such as NHS England, Lancashire County Council, CCGs and various other hospital Trusts which agrees a way of working together.
Formal Complaints can be escalated to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman or into the Legal system following an investigation.
Wendy added: “We listen to concerns and complaints from our patients and their relatives and try and resolve things as best we can.
“Most people just want someone to listen to them as they can be emotional, angry and upset. Talking through a concern very often sorts the problem out.
“We consider ourselves here for the patient and a patient focused service; ultimately we care about what happens to them”.
The team would like to add that they are very grateful for the support and advice they receive from other Trust staff when they are contacted.