North Shore Hospital wants patients with concerns about its quality of care to lodge formal complaints so it can investigate and act.

Patients are taking their complaints about their treatment at the hospital to the Herald, with many saying they thought it would be "useless" to make a formal complaint.

"When a complaint is not made to the hospital or the board, there is really nothing much we can do," said Waitemata District Health Board chief executive Dave Davies.

"Investigations can only be initiated if there is a complaint."

Mr Davies said complainants could phone the hospital's complaints co-ordinator on (09) 486-8920 extension 3153, or send an email.

"Sometimes, of course, concerns do arise from patients and their families and friends, and things can and do go wrong in hospitals," he said.

"We are always open to hearing those concerns and genuinely see them as a way of improving healthcare for Auckland.

"Only by hearing these concerns can we hope to improve services over time."

Mr Davies cited the case of a patient discharged with only verbal instructions on how to use a piece of medical equipment.

"The patient forgot the verbal information and complained that a verbal briefing was inadequate. This was realised and acknowledged by Waitemata DHB.

"As a result, a written information sheet was developed which listed what patients in this type of situation needed to do, what the district nurse - who was delivering on-going care - needed to do, and numbers to call at the DHB if there was confusion."

Mr Davies said reviews of the cases reported in the Herald in the past week had shown "inaccuracies" in the accounts given by the complainants.

But the hospital could not spell out what those inaccuracies were or provide any other details because of patient confidentiality.

Browns Bay resident Amy Zhu, whose 5-year-old daughter was left covered with mite bites after waiting 12 hours at the hospital's A&E reception with a broken leg, said she did not lodge a complaint because she thought it would be "useless".

"Bringing it to the attention of the media means other people can know about what's happening and take precaution when they next visit the hospital," Mrs Zhu said.

"But it is useless to make a complaint because it just means the hospital will conduct an internal investigation, make an excuse and then close the matter."

Civil servant Kathryn Dixon, who had issues with hospital treatment in 2008, said she also thought it was pointless to lodge a complaint because North Shore has been "a shocking hospital" for years.

In the year to June 2005, the highest number of complaints made to the Health and Disability Commissioner was about Auckland District Health Board. These totalled 165 - 3.8 per 10,000 population.

The commissioner got 94 complaints against Waitemata District Health Board, which equates to just 1.9 per 10,000 population.