One in nine reluctant to speak out about poor care

Published: 15 June 2013 Page last updated: 3 November 2022

15 June 2013

Research carried out by England’s health and social care regulator the Care Quality Commission has shown that one in nine people would be reluctant to speak out about poor care.

Of 1005 people surveyed by CQC, 11% said they would be unlikely to raise a concern or complain about poor care. The main reasons suggested for why people wouldn’t speak up were - not wanting to be thought of as a trouble maker (26%); that it wouldn’t make a difference (25%) and that members of staff were so stretched that complaining wouldn’t help (15%). A smaller number (11%) said fear their care would get worse if they spoke up.

The survey also showed that care services are not responding well to people who do speak up. More than half (55%) of those who had voiced a concern about poor care felt that their feedback wasn’t welcomed and a similar number felt they hadn’t received a satisfactory response (57%). Just over a third (34%) said they didn’t feel they had been treated with respect while their concern was being looked into.

When asked what would persuade them to speak out, three quarters said that knowing what standard of care they have a legal right to expect would help (76%) as would being encouraged by people who are providing the care to speak up (75%). A large number (70%) also said they would be encouraged to speak up if the service routinely let people know what action they had taken in response to feedback.

David Behan, CQC Chief Executive said: “It is vital that people feel they can speak out when they experience poor care and that they’re listened to properly. In future we’ll be checking whether services are open and encourage people to speak out and respond to what people are telling them. On our part we’ll promote the standards of care people have a right to expect, including the fundamentals of care, and we’ll listen better to what people tell us about the reality of care they receive. It’s part of one of the many significant changes we’re introducing to make sure people get safe, effective, compassionate, high quality care.”

CQC carried out the research to follow up on anecdotal feedback from patient groups and the public that people were too frightened to voice their concerns about poor care. One of the key findings of the Francis report into the appalling care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust was that people were not listened to properly. This has been echoed by a recent Health Service Ombudsman report about how trust boards listen to, and act on, complaints.

To improve the way it listens to people’s experiences of care in deciding when, where and what to inspect, CQC has been working with voluntary organisations to make sure concerns they pick up are passed on quickly to CQC. The partnership working has given the regulator valuable information. Over a thousand people a month now tell the regulator about their experiences of care via a feedback form on CQC’s website.

The research has also shown that where people feel confident to speak out about poor care, they’re also more likely to provide positive feedback when care is good (44% of those who have raised a concern or made a complaint about a service say that they have provided positive feedback on their care or treatment compared to 27% of those who have not voiced a concern or made a complaint.)

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Notes to editors

Download the report at the link below...

Fear of raising concerns about care

The consultation on changes to the way we inspect care services will begin on 17 June. We hope as many people as possible will give us their views and comments. More details will be on the CQC website shortly

The research was carried out by ICM Research on behalf of the Care Quality Commission.

Technical note: ICM interviewed a representative sample of 1,005 adults aged 18 and over in Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone, 12-14 April 2013. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

For media enquiries call the CQC press office on 0207 448 9401 during office hours or out of hours on 07917 232 143.

For general enquiries call 03000 616161.


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About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find to help people choose care.