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Hospitals face 'voting booths' in A&E to measure patient experience

  • 9 Comments

Hospitals may have to install voting booths in inpatient wards and A&E to measure patient experience, it has been revealed.

The proposal for voting kiosks or “hand-held devices” to allow patients to rate their hospital stay comes in draft guidance from the Department of Health on implementing its “friends and family” patient satisfaction measure.

From April 2013 trusts will be contractually obliged to ask inpatients and A&E attendees who are not admitted whether they would recommend the hospital to their friends and family. This will result in each hospital receiving a “net promoter score”.

The move was announced by prime minister David Cameron in May but the DH documents reveal trusts will have to collect the data for at least seven consecutive days of every month, for every ward and A&E – placing a significant administrative burden on some organisations.

“Voting booth kiosks”, hand-held devices, text messages and questionnaires were all suggested as means of collecting the data.

The friends and family system is already used to measure inpatient satisfaction in the NHS Midlands and East region and widely used in the private sector.

Patients are asked: “How likely is it that you would recommend this service to friends and family?” with scores determined by the number of patients unlikely to recommend a trust subtracted from the number of patients who would recommend it, to calculate a percentage score ranging from -100 to 100.

The scheme was endorsed by the Royal College of Nursing in May.

But the documents obtained by Nursing Times’ sister title Health Service Journal show the DH has not yet agreed the wording of the question to be asked across the NHS.

One paper said: “Testing…. of the versions of the question has resulted in further work to do. NHS Midlands and East SHA was the national pilot region for the introduction of this initiative and have now commissioned this further work on the question. We therefore expect to know the exact wording of the question in September.”

The DH document also confirmed there would be no extra money to support trusts in collecting the data.

It said: “We recognise the systems and technology to collect this volume of data may not be available initially.” But it added that there would be “no additional financial support available to trusts in implementing this work”.

“Future work is planned to explore the possible extension of the use of the friends and family test to additional patient groups and care settings, and the merits of standardising the collection of follow up questions,” the paper said.

“A longer-term vision of the work is to extend the friends and family test to all patient groups with automatic links to patient-level data, to enable drill downs and deeper levels of understanding of services.”

  • 9 Comments

Readers' comments (9)

  • michael stone

    'But the documents obtained by Nursing Times’ sister title Health Service Journal show the DH has not yet agreed the wording of the question to be asked across the NHS.'

    The precise wording of this type of question, is known to influence the answers you get.

    And you get much more useful feedback, in my opinion, if you also invite people to supply more detailed 'narrative' comments along the lines of 'This happened to me, and ....' (although that feedback is much harder to analyse, and in particular it cannot be 'easily scored').

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  • grumpy

    'there would be no extra money to support trusts in collecting the data'
    Great! So where is the money coming from??
    More cuts to staffing? More work for the staff who are left?
    Absolutely brilliant - sacrifice care for yet another PR stunt!
    Had enough of this, can't wait to retire.

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  • Florence

    Measuring the quality of the service we provide is vital. However I agree with Mike Stones' comments.

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  • sounds very petty and a total waste of money which could be better spent on improving facilities and care.

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  • MeThinks

    It isn't 'petty', because everyone attaches different levels of importance to the issues in front of them, and only by asking patients and relatives what they think, can you discover the things they consider important but clinicians and manager don't believe are important.

    And Mike Stone's point was right - would you consider 'Is your ward adequately staffed ?' with only the options of yes/no as answers, a decent question to resolve staffing issues ?

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  • if funding was properly allocated and staffing adequate and everybody did their jobs to the best of their ability there would be no need for all these extra costly frills as patients would see less need for complaint.

    there must be cheaper and effective ways of collecting patient feedback and dealing with any genuine and serious complaints and any other concerns patients have.

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  • if funding was properly allocated and staffing adequate and everybody did their jobs to the best of their ability there would be no need for all these extra costly frills as patients would see less need for complaint.

    there must be cheaper and effective ways of collecting patient feedback and dealing with any genuine and serious complaints and any other concerns patients have.

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  • Many patients comment verbally that nurses are so busy, so if that is what they put on the voting form, it should have a positive effect. Hopefully that is a question that can be addressed. Even if it a tick box exercise, there should be also a comments box, unless this issue is cleverly avoided. I'm sure management and the government don't really want to hear that. Even after 39 1/2 years in the NHS and having become a cynic, I still seem to possess hope, silly me!

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  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 2-Aug-2012 0:06 am

    'Many patients comment verbally that nurses are so busy, so if that is what they put on the voting form, it should have a positive effect.'

    Yes - for some reason, a lot of nurses on this site seem to write as if patients are all anti-nurse, but surely if lots of patients commented on wards being apparently short staffed, that would be helpful !

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