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Patient satisfaction on increase

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Nurses have been praised in a survey of nearly 76,000 patients by the Healthcare Commission.

Nine out of 10 inpatients in England rated their care in 2007 as ‘good’, ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ in the survey.

The survey revealed a steadily increasing trend in patient satisfaction, with 42% rating their care as ‘excellent’, compared with 41% the previous year and 38% in 2002.

Commission chief executive Anna Walker described the trend as ‘encouraging’.

However, the annual yardstick of NHS inpatient opinion, which involved 165 acute trusts, revealed a wide variation in perceived performance.

Three-quarters of patients in the best-performing trust, Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic and District Hospital Trust in Shropshire, rated their care as ‘excellent’ compared to only one-quarter at the worst performers, Ealing Hospital NHS Trust and Mayday Healthcare NHS Trust, both in London.

The survey also shows slight improvements in quality of hospital food and on waiting times to be admitted from A&E.

Teamwork between nurses and doctors has improved, being rated as ‘excellent’ by 39% of respondents, compared with 36% in 2006.

However, concerns were raised about mixed-sex wards, with 24% of patients reporting they were on a mixed-sex ward on admission, and 30% having used mixed-sex bathrooms.

Health secretary Alan Johnson said at last month’s RCN Congress that he hoped ‘mixed-sex accommodation’ would be eliminated in the NHS within the next 12 months.

Most patients (80%) said nurses never spoke in front of them as if they were not there. Additionally, 70% said nurses washed their hands between touching patients, although 7% said nurses failed to do so.

Nurses were better than doctors at hand hygiene, with 12% of patients reporting that doctors failed to wash their hands between patients.

RCN general secretary Peter Carter said the results were a ‘testament to the hard work of nurses’.

Gail Adams, Unison’s head of nursing, said: ‘It is reassuring to know that the overwhelming majority of patients are receiving a high quality of care from nursing staff.

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