Elderly people are reluctant to complain about poor health care, says the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman investigates complaints that have not been dealt with satisfactorily by the NHS.

Surprisingly the organisation receives very few complaints from people over the age of 65, despite this age group making regular use of the NHS and social care service.

A recent report, titled Breaking down the Barriers, reveals this is because the elderly do not know how to complain, or because they are frightened of the consequences.

Of the cases reviewed, 56% had experienced a problem with medical care but had not raised a complaint because of worries it would impact upon future care.

Of these, 32% felt that a complaint would not make a difference anyway.

One in five people over the age of 75 did not know how to make a complaint against the NHS, and less than a third had been given the offer of help.

“Suffering in silence”

Dame Julie Mellor, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, said: “Older people are some of the most frequent and vulnerable users of health and social care services but are the silent majority when it comes to complaining.”

“Their reluctance to complain could mean that they are suffering in silence and could lead to missed opportunities to improve the service for others.”

“We want older people to be confident to speak up when things go wrong to help prevent someone else from going through the same ordeal.”

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