Glasgow & West Scotland

Concern over charges at Ross Hall private hospital

Ross Hall Hospital
Image caption Ross Hall has been advised to make its costs clearer to patients

A private hospital in Glasgow has been criticised for not setting out its charges clearly enough.

Inspectors from Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) found that half of all complaints to Ross Hall Hospital this year were about financial matters.

HIS said costs should be clearer and patients should be made aware they could complain to outside bodies.

Hospital operator, BMI Healthcare, said it was "implementing an action plan" to address concerns about complaints.

Inspectors carried out an unannounced inspection to Ross Hall on 10 July 2012.

Policy unclear

Overall, the private hospital scored well, achieving five "very good" ratings for quality of staffing, five "very good" ratings for quality of environment and four "good" ratings for quality of information.

One "weak" rating, however, was recorded for quality of care and support at the hospital.

In their report, inspectors noted: "The hospital complaints policy describes how Ross Hall Hospital should ensure that complaints are investigated and resolved.

"However, we found that the policy does not make clear that people who use the service are able to raise their concerns with Healthcare Improvement Scotland independently."

Inspectors said that on reviewing the hospital's complaints log they found that 53 complaints were made between January and July 2012 - 26 of which related to financial matters.

"This included confusion about charges and a lack of communication about additional charges," inspectors said.

"Within these 26 complaints, we found that seven complaints had not been resolved within the expected 20 working days from the date the complaint was received.

"We noted one particular example where a person who used the service had paid for their treatment but had further additional payments debited from their bank account one year after the treatment had taken place and been paid for."

'Patient dissatisfaction'

Inspectors said that this complaint had "remained unresolved for over a year".

They added: "The records we reviewed showed that staff at the hospital have not followed their own complaints policy."

It concluded: "We are concerned that Ross Hall Hospital does not currently audit its own complaints process.

"This would allow the provider to identify common themes of patient dissatisfaction and effectively monitor its own performance.

"We have concluded that the service needs to have a structured and planned approach to managing complaints."

A spokesman for BMI Healthcare said: "We are pleased that the HIS report found that all but one of the areas inspected were good or very good.

"We have a robust complaints policy in place and aim to resolve any patient issues quickly.

"However, we note the concerns raised by HIS about the management of a small number of complaints and confirm that we are currently implementing an action plan to ensure that all complaints are dealt with to the same high standards commonly applied."

The spokesman said that the most recent patient satisfaction results from the hospital showed "that 99.6% judged their overall quality of care as very good or excellent".

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