Patient feedback and the NHS Constitution

Improving the experience of each individual patient is at the centre of the NHS Constitution. Obtaining feedback from patients and taking account of their views and priorities are vital for the delivery of high quality services and for driving real service improvements.

The NHS Constitution states that NHS services must reflect the needs and preferences of patients, their families and their carers. It is therefore important that all NHS trusts carry out local surveys asking patients their views on the services they have received. It is intended that measuring patients’ experiences in a structured way will act as an incentive to make patient experience a real and central priority for the NHS.

The NHS Patient Survey Programme (NPSP):

  • Is key to make the NHS more patient-centred
  • Provides information to support local quality improvement initiatives
  • Tracks changes in patient experience locally over time
  • Provides information for active performance management
  • Provides information to support public and parliamentary accountability
  • Provides information for the Care Quality Commission’s programme of reviews, monitoring and inspections.

Why do we need patient feedback?
Quality in health and medical care has two distinct dimensions. One has to do with the quality of care from the perspective of professional, technical standards; and the other dimension concerns the quality of care from the perspective of patients. Understanding the way patients experience the care they receive is essential to a complete assessment of the quality of healthcare. This can only be obtained by asking the patients themselves.

It is important to adopt systematic, appropriate and effective ways to ask patients about their experiences, and use this information to shape and improve the way healthcare is delivered.

The Care Quality Commission

The NPSP was established by the Department of Health and has been operating since 2002. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England. The CQC regulates care provided by the NHS, private companies and voluntary organisations, and aims to ensure that better care is provided for everyone. CQC is committed to involving people and responding to their views; the experiences of patients, people who use services, their carers and families are at the heart of CQC’s work.

By ensuring that organisations carry out these surveys in a consistent and systematic way, we can;

  • Build up a national picture of people’s experience
  • Compare the performance of different organisations
  • Monitor change over time
  • Identify variations between different patient groups

Care Quality Commission assessments

Information drawn from the questions in each of the surveys within the NPSP will be used by CQC in its assessment of trusts in England. Questions from the surveys will be used within CQC’s performance monitoring tools and within CQC’s inspections of services.

Measuring performance over time

In addition to the performance assessment, CQC will publish comparable data from the survey to allow trusts to make meaningful comparisons between themselves, based on reliable data. Asking each trust to carry out patient surveys in a consistent way builds a detailed picture of patients’ experiences in the NHS. Information collected in a consistent way is also essential to support Public and Parliamentary accountability. The results are also used by NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care for performance assessment, improvement and regulatory purposes. These include the NHS Outcomes Framework (domain 4: Ensuring patients have a positive experience), the NHS Overall Patient Experience Scores, the NHS Performance Framework, the cross-Whitehall Public Services Transparency Framework and NICE Quality Standards.

CQC will archive the survey data with the UK Data Service after the analysis is completed and published. This will be done with appropriate safeguards that ensure patient confidentiality.

NHSE National Statistics

Surveys within the NPSP contribute to the Overall Patient Experience Scores (OPES), which measure overall patients’ experiences of NHS services. This means that the results from the survey will be used to inform decision-making and research in the government. The OPES are composite results calculated from questions used in the surveys within the NPSP, which contribute to one of five patient experience domains outlined by NHSE:

  • Access and waiting
  • Safe, high quality, coordinated care
  • Better information, more choice
  • Building better relationships
  • Clean, comfortable, friendly place to be