Patient inspectors

On one level, it’s very simple.  On another, it could change everything.

The Department of Health in England has recently published the results of a survey about what matters most to patients about the hospital environment .  Based on the views of almost 3000 people who had either themselves been an inpatient during the last two years, or were the carer of such a patient, the results are perhaps hardly surprising.  For example, when asked what matters most about hospital food, 85% said that it should be at the right temperature, and 69% said they should get the food they ordered.  Or when asked to identify the most important aspects of a well-maintained ward, the top two were to have quiet at night (chosen by 85%) and a locker where I can store personal belongings securely (72%).

Probably not surprising, but how many of our hospitals come close to delivering them?  Well, at least they now know what matters most to their patients…

And they may now have added reason to deliver what their patients want.  81% of respondents said they wanted the performance of their local hospital against these criteria displayed on that hospital’s web site, and 76% said they would use an internet search engine to find it out. 

Almost equal numbers said they would want to know what patients said about the standard of the hospital environment when questioned in a survey, and what patient inspectors found during their visit.

The notion of ‘patient inspectors’ is an interesting one.  As we await the results of the public inquiry into one of the worst recent failures of the regulatory regime (in Mid Staffordshire), it may be an idea whose time has come.

PS In this same survey, 45% of respondents chose free hospital parking in their top 5 ‘important aspects of a hospital with good access for patients’.

 Written by Professor Marcus Longley

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