Record numbers of complaints have been logged at NHS hospitals and community health services in England over the past two years.
The annual rise in complaints is also the highest since records began 12 years ago, according to the NHS Information Centre.
Separate figures showed a 4.4% rise in annual complaints about GP services and dentistry, to reach 50,755 in 2009/10.
Many people have experienced misdiagnosis, neglect and lack of care from the NHS, the Patients Association said, as figures show a record number of complaints.
According to the NHS Information Centre, written complaints about NHS hospital and community health services in England have seen the biggest year-on-year rise since annual reports began in 1997/98.
From the last financial year to this there was a 13.4% rise, from 89,139 to 101,077 written complaints. The biggest group (44.2%) concerned the medical profession, while the second biggest proportion of complaints concerned nurses, midwives and health visitors (22%).
The largest proportion of complaints (42.2%) was about treatment that patients had received, followed by the attitude of staff (12.2%).
The Patients Association said the rise in complaints was very worrying. It was “reflected in an increase in the number of people contacting our helpline to tell us of problems they are having with NHS services,” said the association’s chief executive, Katherine Murphy.
“On our helpline we hear absolutely appalling stories of neglect, misdiagnosis and a distinct lack of care and compassion. We know many people receive good care, but that doesn’t excuse the poor care received by others. Keep in mind many people want to complain but don’t and these figures will certainly massively underestimate the number of people that actually want to complain. The rise might actually reflect greater awareness of the complaints process.”
The association has called for a fundamental review of the complaints process. “The saddest aspect is that often these complaints don’t actually achieve what most complainants want – an improvement in care,” she said.