Thousands of patients across British Columbia are accessing the standardized care quality complaints process launched in 2008, announced Health Services Minister Kevin Falcon today, following the release of the Patient Care Quality Review Boards' first annual report.
"We have one of the best health-care systems in the world, but that doesn't mean that there isn't room for improvement," said Falcon. "When patients have concerns about the quality of care, it's important those concerns are addressed in a timely and appropriate way. This report demonstrates that patients are being heard and their complaints are being acted upon in real, meaningful ways."
According to the report, patients made a total of 5,824 care quality complaints to the province's six health authorities in 2009-10. The vast majority of these complaints - 99 per cent - were resolved at the health authority level, with just 65 proceeding to the Patient Care Quality Review Boards for an independent review.
This is the first time aggregate data on the number and type of patient complaints has been consistently tracked and reported across the province.
"Having an accessible and responsive complaints process is crucial to enhancing patient and public confidence in the health-care system," said Dr. Jack Chritchley, chair of the Patient Care Quality Review Boards for Vancouver Coastal, Fraser and Provincial Health Services. "I am very proud of the work done to date by the boards, and particularly proud to see the health- care system improving as a result of this process."
In 2009-10, the boards made 104 recommendations for quality improvement, resulting in a number of changes at the local and regional level, including new and amended policies and protocols, better communications tools for providers and patients, and new educational opportunities and training for staff.
The patient complaints process was established in 2008 with the introduction of the Patient Care Quality Review Board Act. Under the legislation, each health authority created a central patient care quality office to receive and respond to complaints regarding the quality of care. The legislation also created six independent boards - one designated for each health authority - to review complaints that had not been resolved at the health authority level. Following a review, the boards may make recommendations to the health authority and/or Minister of Health Services for quality improvement.
By introducing an independent review process and a number of reporting requirements, the act enhances the transparency and accountability of the health-care system.
This is the first annual report from the boards, following their first full year of operation in 2009-10. The report outlines the boards' achievements to date, gives a statistical overview of complaints received by the boards and provides a summary of recommendations and responses.
The Patient Care Quality Review Boards' annual report is available online at: http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/library/publications/year/2010/PCQRB_AnnualReport_0910.pdf