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Nurses to face scrutiny of NHS Choices patient feedback

Nurses could find themselves facing disciplinary action if found at fault through patient feedback to NHS Choices, Nursing Times can reveal.

NHS Choices, the information website for NHS patients, will be ‘duty bound’ to report individual nurses to their trust if conduct considered dangerous is exposed by a new scheme for patients to post comments about their healthcare experience.

The online initiative, launched last week, encourages patients to post their comments – both negative and positive – about the organisation at which they most recently received treatment. They will also be able to ‘share their experiences with other patients’.

‘We have a duty to act responsibly so, if a comment was supplied that highlighted a potential risk, it would be passed to a line manager to make a decision,’ an NHS Choices spokesperson told Nursing Times.

‘Each comment would be assessed case by case and we would be duty bound to pass the information on to the organisation concerned.’

However, nurses will not be named publicly by the site for legal reasons and managers of the scheme will not pass comments to the NMC for further investigation, the spokesperson added.
Under the scheme, patients are being asked for their comments in five areas:

  • Dignity and respect;

  • Cleanliness;

  • Whether nurses and doctors worked well together;

  • If patients felt they were involved in decisions around their care;

  • If they would recommend the hospital to friends and family.

Each NHS organisation will receive all comments about itself posted on the NHS Choices website and ministers expect trust chief executives to act where change is required to improve services.
The initiative is part of the government’s NHS Next Stage Review drive to put patient experience at the heart of the health service and simultaneously improve standards.

‘As consumers, if we buy an item from eBay, or go to a restaurant, we rightly expect to be able to give feedback on the service received. The NHS should be no different,’ the Department of Health states.

Launching the feedback service during a visit to London’s Royal Marsden Hospital, health minister Phil Hope said: ‘I genuinely hope it will be a good opportunity for nurses in particular to see both the positive comments as well as the negative.

‘Where things are critical, [they can] think about what they could do practically to think about how it can change,’ he said.

Should nurses face disciplinary action over patient feedback? Click here to debate it on the NT forums


Readers' comments (5)

  • This is so worrying. It is not as if Nurses aren't under enough scrutiny and pressure as it is. How impartial will this be? How much protection will a Nurse get? Will these results just be completely anonymous with no questioning of the motives of the patient?

    How many good Nurse's careers will this ruin?

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  • It's just another form of regulation which I think will help to encourage professional conduct. If you're care is of the right standard you have nothing to worry about. It's unlikely a band of patients would get together to erroneously criticize you resulting in a suspension. Also, I'd have thought that usual employment law would still stand, so that it wouldn't be particularly easy to suspend someone.

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  • Unfortunately poorly performing managers don't bother reading policies and suspend 1st, ask questions when they get round to it, which may not be for several weeks or months.
    If the feedback helps staff to improve their practice and is used positively, then it must be good. But if staff are scapegoated because the unit is short staffed and they are unable to give the care they would like, who will know they have been victimised? The Department of Health won't know and doesn't want to know. How many staff are currently suspended, for how long and why? They don't know and are afraid to find out!
    And who will look to see if the cause of the complaints is systems failure, not people failure, thought to be the main cuprit most often?
    Julie Fagan ,
    CAUSE (UK)
    Campaign Against Unnecessary Suspensions and Exclusions in the NHS (UK)
    Campaign Co-ordinators: Julie Fagan, Craig Longstaff, Andre Downer,
    Elsie Gayle (midwifery spokesperson), Dave Williams (Welsh spokesperson)
    and Kate Wynn (Scottish spokesperson)

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  • I fail to see that anyone who is doing thier job correctly would object to this - at the very least it is an opportunity to get feedback that is very direct and at the most gives a good insight into the way others see us as opposed to the way we think they see us

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  • I am from a community hospital in America. We have been doing patient satisfaction surveys/reporting surveys for years. Copies come back to the directors of all units in which the patient stayed and to any specific nurses listed by the patient. The complaints have always been investigated. Also, any praises are made public to the whole unit. However, it takes more that one patient complaint on a piece of paper or a computer screen to get a nurse dismissed. We have a whole disciplinary system in place within the hospital that insures legal due process and job protection for the nurse unless it is proven to be negligence or malpractice.

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