Britain – a nation of complainers

Britain – a nation of complainers

But are they effective in their complaints?

This week’s figures, compiled by Ombudsman Services [1], show that Britons made 66 million complaints last year, which works out at more than one grumble for every adult in the UK. This figure has risen from the previous year. [2]

Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow, consumer blogger and author of How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! warns of treating the figures with caution.

The figures are taken from a survey of only 2,355 of people and scaled up. It doesn’t show how effective these complaints are. Dewdney comments “It is quite possible that more Britons are moaning more about more things but there is little information on whether these are complaints that are effective and gaining redress or whether it is just people having a rant and a moan.”

So are Britons complaining more? Dewdney doesn’t think so, as she sees the same issues cropping up as they did five years ago. “People are still unsure of their legal rights and so easily get fobbed off”, she explains. “Many companies will try and wriggle out of providing a full refund when it is due, for example. Also people give up when given the run around by companies, or don’t know how to complain effectively and so fail in getting refunds and redress.”

How about social media? This offers a new way for consumers to seek justice, with the proportion of complaints raised on sites like Facebook and Twitter increasing to 36 per cent, up five per cent from a year ago – more than 18 million complaints in total. This may account for the rise in complaints but are they actually complaints gaining redress or are they just rants?

When customer services doesn’t work, people have a number of choices as to where to go next, whether it’s to the CEO, to an ombudsman or even to the small claims court.

Marcus Williamson, editor of the consumer website ceoemail.com which provides contact details for many CEOs, recommends escalating issues to the CEO as a next step, when necessary. He says “Sometimes it takes an email to the top man or woman to get issues moving. It is the best way to get attention for your issue, if you’re being ignored by the usual channels.”

So, how well do you know your legal rights and how to complain effectively?

1) Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 you are entitled to goods that are of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, match the description and last a reasonable length of time. If items you purchase are in breach of this Act you are entitled to a full refund (up to 30 days from purchase) repair or replacement.

2) Under the same Act you are entitled to services to be carried out with reasonable skill and care.

3) When complaining, put it in writing so that you have the evidence should you need to take the matter further. If you do ‘phone make sure you take the name of the person, any reference number and follow up any agreements made verbally with an email.

4) Be objective, polite and succinct. Bullet point issues if it is a long complaint.

5) State what you want to happen as an outcome to your complaint, such as explanation, apology, refund etc.

6) Give a deadline by which you expect to receive a response and what you will do if you don’t receive a satisfactory one, such as contacting a relevant ombudsman, Small Claims Court etc.

7) If it is a serious complaint, or you are not satisfied with customer services, go to the CEO. The CEO is unlikely to respond personally (although some will) but the complaint will go to a more senior team than customer services.

 

 

References

[1] Link to Ombudsman Services survey: https://www.ombudsman-services.org/2015-complaints-top-50-million.html

[2] Last year’s figure was 38 million complaints.

 

Truth & lies behind #juniordoctorsstrike (& what you can do)

Looks like the majority of the public are against Jeremy Hunt, his bullying tactics and refusal to listen to people who know what they are talking about. From just a glance at social media he is completely outnumbered. His arrogance is stunning (yes in my humble opinion but I know I am far from alone!) up there with with Iain Duncan Smith whose arrogance knew no bounds when I questioned him in two surgeries! But what do we truly know? We know that it is probably more sensible to believe the entire medical profession than one single man and an MP at that, but what is the full story about what we are being told and what can we, the public do if we are truly behind the NHS? Is he right? Is he wrong? I asked Jacky Davis, a consultant in North London, a founder member of the campaign Keep our NHS Public and a member of the BMA Council to tell us. She is the co-author of two books about the NHS – NHS SOS, how the NHS was betrayed and How We Can Save It, and NHS For Sale. The final chapter of NHS SOS is entitled ‘What you can do to save the NHS’ and contains much practical advice about what the public can do to fight for the NHS. Follow her at @DrJackyDavis for up to date news about the NHS.

Guest post by Dr Jacky Davis

Dr Jacky Davis

Junior doctors are revolting
For the first time since the 1970’s junior doctors have taken industrial action in protest against a new contract, which they say is unfair and unsafe. On their side David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt claim that a new contract is needed to deliver a ‘7 day NHS’. You will of course hear greatly differing versions from the two sides of what is being offered and the grounds for rejection. Junior doctors say:

  • The contract will force doctors to work longer and later with fewer safeguards. This threatens to compromise patient safety
  • The 11% pay rise is more than offset by a drop in pay for working antisocial hours
  • Doctors pay starts below the national median – starting salary is £21,000, for an ASDA manager £22,000. Doctors also have to pay for registration, legal protection, insurance and exams
  • The new contract would penalise those who take time out to have a family or who work part time.

The government proposes that normal working hours should now be from 7 am – 10 pm Monday to Saturday (please note MPs have just cut their own hours and increased their own pay). The reduction of hours that attract extra pay is a red line in the sand for the government, because if they can redefine them for junior doctors they can redefine them for other NHS staff too…

On the government’s side, Hunt and Cameron have used their ‘manifesto promise’ of a 24/7 NHS to justify their imposition of the contract but it is important to remember:

  • We already have a 24/7 NHS. No-one is sent home with a broken leg or a burst appendix on a Saturday afternoon. Almost all NHS clinical staff work out of hours to provide emergency and urgent care, as Hunt was reminded by the twitter storm #ImInWorkJeremy
  • We can’t afford a routine 24/7 NHS While the government have refused to define what they mean by ‘a truly 7 day NHS’ they have indicated that they mean routine care available 7 days a week. Pilots show that patients don’t want this and Hunt certainly can’t afford it. Routine care requires not only doctors but all the support staff of nurses, radiographers, porters, admin staff etc. It would mean extending an already overstretched service across 7 days instead of 5.
  • A new contract is not needed to improve out of hours care. Emergency and urgent out of hours (OOH) care always needs improving, but this does not require a new contract for junior doctors. The devolved nations are not imposing this contract (and indeed are already looking to recruit disaffected English doctors) and there are trusts in England which have improved their OOH care without the need for a new contract.
  • Leaked document reveals Jeremy Hunt’s own officials doubt his evidence on seven-day NHS plans more here so just who actually backs him?

What Cameron and Hunt say…
Both Cameron and Hunt have repeatedly misquoted statistics about increased mortality in relation to weekend admissions despite being publicly contradicted by the authors of the paper they quote and by the editor of the BMJ.  What’s more Hunts misleading claims about the dangers of being admitted over the weekend mean that 53% of people are now afraid of going to hospital out of hours, in itself a dangerous state of affairs. And ironically it has already been reported that Hunt’s treatment of the juniors has led to clinical initiatives to improve out of hours (OOH) care being derailed

As for the government’s accusation that junior doctors have been misled by their ‘irresponsible’ union – these are for the most part not people just out of medical school. ‘Junior doctor’ means most hospital doctors below the consultant grade, so that many of them will have years of experience on the wards, young families to consider – and a good understanding of their contracts. Of the 76% who voted, 98% supported industrial action, a percentage that political parties can only dream of (the Tories won the last general election with a vote of 36.7% on a 66% turnout).

Hunt has accused them of putting patients in danger but while junior doctors are striking patient care is being provided by highly experienced consultants and associated specialists (and it is well documented that mortality stays the same or actually drops during doctors’ strikes). It is true that some patients will have had their operations postponed, but while Hunt wrings his hands about this no-one has mentioned the fact that 70,000 operations were cancelled last year, due to NHS underfunding eg bed shortages, lack of staff and theatre time. This dwarfs what has happened during the 2 days of industrial action but there has been no mention of it in the mainstream media.

Current status
Cameron and Hunt have now taken their own ‘nuclear option’ and imposed the contract, the first time this has ever happened. Imposition, apart from seriously upsetting the very doctors who are the backbone of hospital care, could have serious consequences for recruitment and retention of doctors. 14 out of 20 CEOs have already withdrawn support from a letter in which they supposedly backed Hunt. Meanwhile Hunt – while claiming to have an open door – has dodged not only numerous invitations from the media to state his case but doctors themselves, running away from any confrontation. An event for which junior doctors had bought tickets was moved elsewhere at the last minute, and doctors who did manage to get there were screened out at the door. It is a damning indictment when the Health Minister is afraid to face his own staff.

Hunt and Cameron know that the public are overwhelmingly behind the junior doctors and the NHS in general.

What YOU can do to help put pressure on Cameron and Hunt
If you want to help then there ARE things you can do and some of them will only take a few seconds of your time and all will help raise the profile of all the issues.

  1. Please read about what is happening to the NHS and its staff  and think about joining a campaign or a local patients group.
  2. Practical action could also include writing to your MP and to national and local papers to support the juniors, turning up at the picket lines on days of action
  3. The continued use of social media to dispel the lies put out by the government
  4. Share this post with friends and family
  5. Join the campaign – Keep Our NHS public
  6. Read up on the privatisation of the NHS at NHS for sale
  7. Follow and rt @keepnhspublic
  8. Sign the petition Consider a vote of No Confidence in Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary
  9. Sign the petition Jeremy Hunt to resume meaningful contract negotiations with the BMA
  10. Sign the petition Labour Party and TUC – call a national demonstration to support the junior doctors!
  11. Sign the letter asking asks David Cameron to show the BMA his plan for extended seven-day services here.
  12. Join the thunderclap here takes place 6.30pm 14th March 2016

The fight that the government has picked with junior doctors is just part of the present attack on the NHS and its staff. Cameron and Hunt are using the vague promise of ‘a truly 7 day NHS’ to impose a contract on junior doctors, in the hope and expectation that if they win they will roll out these changes to other NHS staff. They think the public’s interest and support will wane but we must not let this happen. This is everyone’s fight, NHS staff and patients and the public, and it is surely the government that is now taking risks with patients’ lives. Don’t let apathy win, every little thing helps.

[Tweet “Truth & lies behind #juniordoctorsstrike (& what you can do) gues post by @drjackydavis”]

Thank you for supporting OUR NHS.

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Dr Phil Hammond says test the science, Hunt’s way and the doctor’s proposal in different hospitals and see what works.

You can always rt some of the best tweets out there too:

nhs 1 nhs2 nhs3 nhs4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clips of Jeremy Hunt caught out over and over again.