According to the CQC’s latest survey, almost 7m patients who have accessed health or social care services - both on the NHS and privately - in the last five years had concerns about their care but never raised them.
Common reasons for not voicing concerns included not knowing how (20%) or who (33%) to speak to. One in three kept quiet for fear of being seen as a ‘troublemaker’, while more than a third (37%) felt that nothing would change as a result.
However, the research also showed that, among patients who did voice concerns, two thirds (66%) had had their issue swiftly resolved and were ‘happy with the outcome’. In addition, it was found that services improved in instances where complaints were made.
Overall, more than half (58%) of the people who did not raise their concerns said they regretted their decision to keep quiet.
The main reasons patients gave for raising, or wanting to raise, a concern were delays to a service or appointment, lack of information and poor patient care.
The majority of people who did raise a concern or complaint were motivated by a desire to improve the care they, or a loved one, had received (61%) and improve care for everyone using the service (55%). One in four (26%) said they also hoped for an apology or explanation.
The CQC-commissioned research has been published to mark the launch of the regulator's ‘Declare Your Care’ campaign, which is encouraging people to share their experiences of care with CQC to support its work to improve standards in England.
CQC chief executive Ian Trenholm said: ‘We know that when people raise a concern they have a genuine desire to improve the service for themselves and others. We also know that the majority of services really appreciate this feedback and make positive changes, as this new research shows.
‘Hearing from people about their experiences of care is an important part of our inspection work and contributes to driving improvements in standards of care. Everyone can play a part in improving care by directly giving feedback to services, or by sharing information and experiences with us so that we can take action when we find poor care. Sharing your experience also enables us to highlight the many great examples of care we see.’
Caroline Dinenage, minister of state for care, said: ‘We want the NHS and social care system to provide the safest, most compassionate care in the world. This means encouraging patients to speak up with concerns, ensuring we act on them and learning from what happened so we can do better in future.
‘That’s why I encourage anyone who has concerns over their care, or the care of loved ones, to share their experiences with the Care Quality Commission - so they can continue their vital work of protecting patients and improving the excellent care we see across the health service.’