HEALTHWATCH: Does your voice count?

Within the business world customer feedback is treated like gold dust – by knowing what your customer thinks you can adapt your product so that the customer will want to come back and buy more.

However, feedback does not seem to have the same worth within the statutory sector.

Patients are increasingly being asked for feedback about their healthcare experiences. I often hear how the NHS is data rich – but what happens to this data?

How is it analysed?

Healthwatch’s success is based on collecting stories from local people about the local services, allowing us to spot trends and themes.

However, healthcare staff can find it difficult to act on this feedback in order to make improvements to services.

The Patient Experience Library looked at the overwhelming nature of patient feedback.

A recent report described how hospital staff struggle with a mass of feedback from multiple sources. They reported: “Feeling overwhelmed and fatigued by the volume and variety of data that the Trust collected”.

Patients and their families can also feel “surveyed out”, with a sense that giving an opinion does not make a difference.

Within the NHS there is a plethora of ways you can provide feedback, such as the Family and Friends test, bedside surveys, patient groups, user groups such as Macmillian, the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS), making a formal complaint, talking to Healthwatch, leaving a review on the Care Opinion website or calling the regulatory body Care Quality Commission to name a few.

Patient feedback can provide valuable and timely insight into what is going on within a service or area. The Patient Experience Library write “health care complaints provide added value because they are patient-centred, focus on problematic care episodes, and provide an end-to-end account of care that includes concrete details not captured in incident reports or case reviews”.

There have been calls to streamline and integrate the insight and learning from feedback. One solution is to develop data-driven approaches to understanding and learning from feedback and complaints. The method involves focusing on three key areas: harm hot spots, near-miss hot spots, and institutional blind spots.

In order for feedback to be maximised staff must hold the belief that listening to patients is a worthwhile exercise. Second, structural legitimacy has to be in place – staff teams need adequate autonomy, ownership and resource to enact change.

Some staff teams are able to make improvements within their immediate control and environment.

Third, for those staff who require co-operation or high level assistance to achieve change, organisational readiness must exist otherwise improvement will rarely be enacted.

So next time you are asked for your views or opinions – feel free to ask how the information will be analysed and used.

Let Healthwatch know your views. Get in touch:

Phone: 0118 418 1 418


App: Speak Up Wokingham (Free to download from Apple or Google Play)


Facebook: @healthwatchwokingham

Twitter: @HWWokingham

Nicola Strudley works two days a week as the manager for Healthwatch Wokingham Borough. Opinions expressed in this blog are her own

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Phil Creighton

Editor of The Wokingham Paper, and has worked in local journalism for more than 20 years including the Wokingham Times, Bracknell Standard and Reading Evening Post. He's also written for computer magazines, The Baptist Times and, to his delight and probably not yours, interviewed several Doctor Whos.

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