Hospitals in the East leading the way on patient feedback surveys

PUBLISHED: 16:00 30 July 2013 | UPDATED: 16:28 30 July 2013

The new patient rating token system at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital A&E department which was used by patient Wendy Farmer.

The new patient rating token system at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital A&E department which was used by patient Wendy Farmer. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Archant Norfolk

Hospital chiefs in East Anglia said significant changes in patient care and services had already been put in place following feedback from a new NHS Friends and Family test.

The first national results of the government scheme were published today, which shine a spotlight on poor care at some acute hospitals and reveal which NHS trusts have the best patient satisfaction ratings.

The test, which asks patients whether they would recommend the NHS service they received to family and friends, was introduced across the country in April.

However, hospitals in East Anglia have been running the Friends and Family survey for more than a year and have already been able to reshape services following feedback, officials said.

The best performing Norfolk hospital in June was the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston with a score of 76 out of 100 for inpatient services, with the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) scoring 75 and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn getting 74, compared with the England average of 72.

The top performers in the East for inpatient wards was Papworth Hospital in Cambridge with a score of 90 in June and a rating of 86 for the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds.

The Friends and Family test currently only applies to 157 acute trusts. However, by the end of next year, NHS England hopes to roll the test out to include GP practices, community services and mental health services. All other health services will be included by April 2015.

Satisfaction levels for Accident and Emergency departments in Norfolk and Suffolk in June were much lower than inpatient scores with the West Suffolk Hospital getting 54, James Paget University Hospital scoring 53, Queen Elizabeth Hospital getting 43 and NNUH scoring 39 out of 100, compared with a national average of 54.

Anna Dugdale, chief executive of the NNUH, said the trust was working hard to improve A&E performance and waiting times to help improve patient feedback.

A new token system has also been installed at the exit of the A&E department at the Colney hospital with the Friends and Family test question, which officials hope will lead to more patients giving their views on the standard of care.

Mrs Dugdale added that the NHS trust had moved from a score of 62 to 75 for inpatient services since they started using the survey.

“Our volunteers conduct the surveys and I think it is important because they are independent. It gives us honest feedback and we want that so that we know where to improve. We do not want to hear how good we are, we want to learn how to get better. The key thing is that we have reshaped services to improve patient experience,” she said.

A new 350 space car park has been constructed at the NNUH and a new project to improve the standard of hospital food has also been introduced on the basis of the addition of extra questions on to the Friends and Family survey.

New developments at the James Paget University Hospital following feedback include the offering of ear plugs to patients to help cut out night time noises, the purchase of 30 new wheelchairs with a supermarket-style £1 deposit system and introducing protected meal times.

Julia Hunt, interim director of nursing, said: “We welcome the national publication of these results and I am pleased to see that we are not only scoring well in terms of recommendations from patients but also getting decent response rates. As a board we make a point of listening to a patient story every time we meet.”

Officials from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital said they had invested an extra £400,000 in more nursing staff following the results of Friends and Family surveys.

Gwyneth Wilson, director of nursing and patient experience, said: “We have always valued the opinions of our patients and their families because this is the most effective way to find out if we are providing the level of care they expect. However, in the past this has largely been anecdotal.”

“Now, for the first time, we have documented evidence that we can use to help us plan hospital services for the future. It tells us what we are doing well - but it also tells us where we may need to give our staff additional support or make changes to the way we look after our patients.”

Jan Bloomfield, executive director of workforce and communications at West Suffolk Hospital added: “Listening to our patients is of paramount importance to West Suffolk Hospital and we welcome the feedback provided by the friends and family test. We will use this data alongside the results of other national surveys and the feedback we collect internally to highlight areas where we are preforming well and those where we could improve still further.”

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