Health Service Ombudsman encourages South Asian and Muslim women to complain for change

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman is encouraging South Asian and Muslim women to complain when they have received a poor service from the NHS.

Research carried out by the ombudsman service has revealed that South Asian and Muslim women are less likely to complain about their NHS treatment than white British women.

Focus groups in London, Birmingham and Manchester, with South Asian and Muslim women, in June 2014, were carried out by the ombudsman service revealed that some of this reluctance to complain is because some fear that they will face repercussions. South Asian and Muslim women who complained to the NHS, told us they were made to feel ‘inferior’ and that they ‘were in the wrong for complaining’.

The data revealed that only 5.7% of people who made an enquiry to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman about an NHS complaint were Asian, even though 7% of the English population is Asian. In contrast 88% of people were white British and 80% of the English population are white British.

The anonymised case summaries that show the profound imapct that failures in public services can have on the lives of individuals and their families can be viewed here.

Ombudsman Strategic Plan 2013-2018

Ombudsman launch a strategic plan for 2013 – 2018.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman investigates complaints “hat individuals have been treated unfairly or have received poor service the NHS in England. We do this fairly and without taking sides. We are the final stage in the complaints process after you have complained to the NHS.

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Julie Mellor said:

‘We are worried that South Asian and Muslim women’s voices are going unheard because they are less likely to complain about their NHS treatment than white British women.

“Almost 4 out of 10 of people that are unhappy with public services do not raise a complaint, because they do not believe it will make a difference. We want South Asian and Muslim women to feel confident in making a complaint about their NHS treatment and to know that complaining can make a difference.

“Our service is here for people who are not satisfied with the response from the NHS to their complaint.

“Last year we completed 2,199 investigations, six times as many as last year, giving more people closure on their complaint and using this insight to help improve public services.”

As part of an outreach campaign launched today, the ombudsman service is sending out 25,000 leaflets in five different south Asian languages – Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi and Urdu – explaining how to complain about the NHS treatment.

More than 5,000 posters in six different languages are being sent to advocacy groups in the five cities which have a high proportion of south Asian residents. These are Birmingham, Bradford, Leicester, Manchester and the two London boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Newham.

A television advert in Hindi is also being shown on a cable channel seen by 1.3million viewers, for two months encouraging south Asian women to complain.