A LANCASHIRE healthcare provider has seen the highest increase in complaints from patients in the country.

Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, which runs services including mental health provision, speech therapy and podiatry, has seen complaints rise from 23 in 2010/11 to 56 in 2011/12.

The figures were revealed by the Parliamentary and Health Service ombudsman which found an eight per cent national rise in complaints about the NHS.

Hazel Richards, director of nursing for Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Although complaints to the trust have increased, we don’t perceive this as being due to a decline in standard of care and patient experience.

“Following the Transforming Community Services programme in June 2011 the Trust more than doubled in size, becoming a provider of community-based health and wellbeing services as well as its existing mental health and secure services.

“Additionally, the trust now also manages prison health services and these types of services typically generate a high frequency of complaints.

“The figures highlighted by the ombudsman are the number of complaints referred to them for investigation, however the majority are referred back to the Trust for resolution.

“In 2010/11 only one of the 23 complaints referred to them was investigated and, in the year following the transfer of services, only two out of 56 were investigated.

“As part of our drive to understand and improve patient experience we are actively encouraging the people that use our services to tell us about their experience and this has led to an increase in feedback including compliments. In the same periods, we are pleased to report that we had a rise in compliments from 1,017 in 2010/11 to 1,715 in 2011/12.

“As a Trust we value the views of our patients and service users as it highlights where we are doing well and areas for improvement.”

One third of complaints at Lancashire Cewe was received from the prison service and the remainder from other services.

In 2011/12, Blackburn with Darwen Teaching Care Trust Plus received nine complaints, none of which was accepted for investigation.

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust received 44 complaints, of which two were investigated and one was reported on and partly upheld.

East Lancashire Teaching PCT had 26 complaints, four of which were investigated, and one of those was fully upheld.