Outpatients give verdict on hospital care

Outpatients have been giving their verdicts on their care, with hospitals saying the results have highlighted where they need to improve.

The national survey of NHS outpatients has shown improvement in the way that patients perceive key aspects of care including being seen on time or early for their appointment, cleanliness, respect, dignity and communication with doctors. However, there are still a number of areas where improvement is needed, for example treatments still need to be better explained to patients.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published the results from the fourth national outpatient survey, with more than 72,000 people who visited hospital as an outpatient in April or May last year taking part.

The results from outpatients' overall impressions were positive for the James Paget University Hospital, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital King's Lynn and the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds.

Scores for patients' satisfaction with their visit were 9.1 out of 10 at the N&N and 8.8 at each of the other three.


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Respect and dignity scores were 9.6 for the N&N and West Suffolk, and 9.3 for the James Paget and 9.5 for the QEH.

The overall standard of care was rated at 8.7 for the N&N and West Suffolk, 8.5 at the James Paget and 8.4 at the QEH.

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At the N&N patients also said there was a good choice of appointment times, for which it scored better than average. It also scored higher than normal for patients being involved in decisions about their care and for avoiding confusion, for example being told one thing by a member of staff and something quite different from another.

It also scored better than average on various aspects relating to leaving outpatients and information about medication.

Nick Coveney, N&N director of nursing, said: 'We scored well in most areas and very highly in terms of overall impression. With regard to waiting from appointment time to being seen, our score has improved and we are working hard to reduce waits further and to keep patients informed while they are in clinic.

'We have also launched our own new-style patient experience survey to look in more detail at our patients' experiences.'

The James Paget said the results were positive, but had highlighted one area for improvement.

Chief executive Wendy Slaney said: 'The CQC out-patient survey does show high levels of patient satisfaction and we're especially pleased that privacy and respect scored so highly.

'It's important to learn from our patients and that is why these surveys are so important. For example, this year's survey does show that we need to improve on communications with patients about how long they might have to wait in clinic.'

The QEH rated higher than average for avoiding confusion and bosses said the survey showed patients had confidence and trust in the health professionals treating them.

However, the results showed that staff need to better explain risks of procedures in an understandable way and to tell patients who to contact if they have any worries about their condition after they have left hospital.

Director of nursing Gwyneth Wilson said: 'The survey gives reassurance that in the key areas our standard of care of patients is good and in some cases is well above average and amongst the best in the country.

'However, we accept that additional work is needed in some areas to improve our performance, particularly in keeping patients well-informed, and we have been working hard to achieve that.'

The full results for each hospital can be viewed at the CQC website at www.cqc.org.uk.

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