Investigator into NHS complaints in visit to Blackpool to hear about people's experiences of health services

The ombudsman is urging people to complain where necessary
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A national advocate for health has revealed he has investigated 103 complaints about health services in Blackpool since April 2021 - including the case of a mum-of-three who died from an operable brain tumour.

People are being asked for their views on health servicesPeople are being asked for their views on health services
People are being asked for their views on health services

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) Rob Behrens made the disclosure as he prepared to visit the resort to hear from residents - and urged them to complain when things go wrong.

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The ombudsman, who is due in Blackpool on Monday and Tuesday (February 26 and 27), has investigated complaints about pharmacies, hospitals, dental practices, GP surgeries and medical centres.

One investigation was into the case of May Ashford, from North Shore, who died from an operable brain tumour after doctors at Royal Preston Hospital failed to properly monitor her scan results.

Mrs Ashford died in 2015 after being told her tumour was not growing, despite regular MRI scans showing it was pushing her brain to one side. Her husband subsequently brought a complaint to the PHSO with Mr Behrens'  investigation finding Mrs Ashford was offered surgery too late.

Mr Behrens said: “We are keen to hear from residents in Blackpool about their experiences. Blackpool is an area that faces many challenges as one of the most deprived areas in the country. By visiting the coastal town, we hope to learn from residents and organisations to understand why some people face barriers in complaining.

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“I believe in the power of complaining. A complaint has the power to reveal the truth, bring closure and create lasting positive change. When things go wrong in public services, people should feel empowered to speak up about their experiences so the NHS, the Government and its agencies are held to account and standards improve."

The ombudsman and PHSO’s chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath will speak to community leaders and visit organisations including Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

Beth Martin, project manager at Healthwatch Blackpool which has helped organise the visit, said: "We hope that this visit will be the start of an ongoing relationship where we showcase all of the amazing work that is happening to engage, advocate and empower our residents.”

For more information about making a complaint to the Ombudsman, visit:

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