Patient Liaison and Advice Service (PALS)

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Recent lessons learnt from concerns

This page shows what we've learned, and changes we've made following any complaints we receive. 

We want to tell people about changes in policy, protocols and other practical improvements we've made, so they know we have acted on their comments.

You can find out about the lessons we have learned following comments about specific areas of our work:

Learning from complaints

You can also find out about how we learn from the complaints handling process.pdf

Examples of recent improvements

Northern Centre for Cancer Care (NCCC)

A complaint was made about waiting times and arrangements for day case chemotherapy.

As a consequence the Department reviewed the treatment pathways within the chemotherapy unit and have improved the patient flow to help reduce waiting times.


Part of a complaint related to information about the need to be accompanied when attending for a gastroscopy procedure.

The patient information leaflet has been changed to clarify that patients attending for a gastroscopy with only the use of a throat spray, rather than a general anaesthetic, do not need to be accompanied.


A patient with a hearing impairment complained about experiencing difficulties in verbal communication with the diabetes education programme administrators.

The Directorate now uses SMS text or email to communicate with programme attendees.

Children's Services

A complaint was received from the mother of a patient whose care was in transition from child to adult services.

The Directorate have reviewed and validated a new Transition Policy (of children to adult services) and in consultation with adult services, have identified suitable patient pathways.


A patient’s relative contacted NCCC for advice regarding the patient, who was at home and unwell. However, subsequently there was no documentary evidence of this communication or the advice given in the hospital records.

The NCCC have implemented the national chemotherapy advice tool based on the United Kingdom Oncology Nursing Society Guidelines. This involved telephone assessment of patients, as well as ensuring the provision of and documenting of appropriate advice.

Muskuloskeletal Services

Several concerns and complaints were made about Fracture Clinic waiting times.

Muskuloskeletal Services reviewed working practices, and waiting time has been reduced following restructuring of some of the clinics to encompass a team and patient sharing approach. New patients are now being seen in the morning and follow-up patients in the afternoon.


Requests were made for information on emergency care and student capabilities.

Patients attending the Dental Hospital now receive improved information clarifying treatment provided by Dental Students and the availability of urgent care in between appointments.


A patient did not receive an appointment for an annual mammogram at the correct time and subsequently waited a month for the mammogram results.

The Radiology Department and the surgical team have reviewed the processes involved, and the Breast Unit now administers the five year follow-up appointments, rather than awaiting requests from the surgeons. The process for filing and reporting of mammograms has also been amended to speed up patients receiving results.


A patient was admitted for spinal surgery, which unfortunatelydue to an emergency case, had to be cancelled. The patient complained that they were given no information as to how or when their surgery would be re-scheduled.

The Neurosciences Directorate have designed and produced a leaflet to be given to patients with the necessary explanation and information in the event of a cancellation.

Women's Services

Following the stillbirth of her child, a patient complained about the lack of information provided to pregnant mothers about fetal movement and stillbirths.

Women's Services has produced an “Information for Pregnancy” booklet which covers all aspects of pregnancy. It is intended that the leaflet will be given to all pregnant women in future and the booklet contains a section about the importance of fetal movements.

Children’s Services

After discharge, parents expressed concerns regarding the care of their child’s wound following surgery for incision and drainage of a Peri-anal abscess.

Children's Service have now developed discharge advice leaflets for parents about several different conditions, including drainage of Peri-anal abscess.

Perioperative Services

A complaint was made about staff having failed to inform a patient to discontinue Clopidogrel medication prior to admission for surgery.

Perioperative Services shared this issue at their staff governance meeting to highlight and indicate lessons learnt. As a consequence the medication advice leaflet has been reviewed and updated.

Take 2 Minutes... see how we did

We have developed a 'Take 2 Minutes' newsletter to report on feedback we receive from patients about our services.

The newsletter is circulated to our staff, but we hope it will also give you information about the work we do in acting on patient comments to improve our services. Please note, these are PDF documents which may take some time to download:




Past improvements

You can find more information about the improvements we've made following patient comments over the years:

Please note, these links are to PDF files which may take a little while to download.

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