Publicising surveys

Pre-survey communication with staff

The best way to ensure your survey is a success is to make sure that staff who have the most impact on patients’ experiences and who will be responsible for responding to the results of the survey are involved from the beginning.

  • Notify as many staff members as possible about the survey in case patients contact the trust asking questions about the questionnaire they have received.
  • Patients can be expected to ask receptionists, doctors, nurses, patient liaison officers or the Chief Executive’s office about the survey, even when your covering letters give contact details for the survey manager(s) and the dedicated helpline, or your contractor’s telephone number.
  • Notify front line staff and executive offices that a survey is being conducted and give them the name and number of a contact person.
  • Survey manager(s) should be prepared to respond to these calls quickly

Keeping everyone informed

Staff could be notified of the survey through a variety of methods:

  • Electronic (e.g. e-bulletins, website, intranet)
  • Paper-based (e.g. staff briefings, newsletters, flyers, posters)
  • Face-to-face (e.g. meetings, presentations and events)

Suggested template text for pre-survey communication with staff

You may wish to use the text below to publicise the survey to your staff.

Example titles:

  • What do our patients think about us? (For the Community Mental Health survey, use service users (instead of patients) throughout.)
  • Getting patients’ views on the quality of care in [trust name]
  • Understanding patients’ experiences in [trust name]
  • Patients’ views vital to drive service improvements in [trust name]

Example text:

We [or NHS Trust name / Hospital name] will soon be carrying out a survey to find out what patients think about the care that we provide. This survey is part of the NHS Patient Survey Programme.

Why are we doing another patient survey?

The survey needs to be run regularly using the same method and asking the same (or similar) questions so that we can see any changes in patients’ experiences over time. This enables us to make improvements in a specific area if people’s responses show a poor experience. It also helps us to evaluate the success of quality improvement initiatives implemented since the last survey.

It’s vital to gather feedback from patients and take their views and priorities into account to improve the quality of care.

When is the survey happening?

Questionnaires will be posted to a sample of patients during [month/s]. A reminder will then be sent during [time period i.e. month/s] to those who have not responded.

Patients are being asked about various aspects of their care, including [the quality of care and treatment, communication with staff, information, and environment of facilities.]

Who is the questionnaire being sent to?

The questionnaire will be sent to a sample of [number] patients, aged [16 years and over, or amend for CYP or MH surveys], who used [service] during [month/s]. [If using a contractor: An external survey contractor, {name}, is administering the survey so that patients’ responses are anonymous to us].

How have we used the results from previous survey?

Results from the [previous survey, include year] helped to identify areas where there was most room for improvement [a summary of the key findings from the previous survey and how the trust acted on the results can be inserted here].

When will the results of this survey be available?

The results of the [survey name, include year] will be available in [month/date] in [location of where results will be published or shared with staff]. The survey findings will be reported in [format, e.g. a summary report, at a meeting etc…]. We will work with our staff and patients to use the feedback from this survey to help improve patient’s experiences at the trust.

Where can I find out more?

Please contact [lead survey name and contact details].

Publicising the survey externally

It is important that NHS surveys are publicised and responses encouraged so that as many patients’ voices as possible are heard. To help promote involvement and maximise response rates, and to give the opportunity to opt out, we recommend that you:

  • Send a press release to the local media to raise awareness of the survey and gain publicity just before the survey takes place. Talk to your hospital’s press office for more ways in which you can gain publicity locally.
  • Put up posters around appropriate locations (for example, waiting areas, canteen/s or other areas) which show the importance the trust places on gathering patient feedback. To be most effective at increasing your response rate, posters should be put up in the hospital during the sampling period (i.e. during the month(s) from which your sample of patients will be drawn).

To encourage patients to respond…

  • Illustrate how the trust has acted on the results of the previous patient surveys carried out by the trust.
  • Patients are more likely to be motivated to take part in the survey if they can see tangible outcomes from a previous survey.
  • We strongly recommend that trusts used social media such as Facebook or Twitter to publicise the survey to reach as many people as possible: evidence suggests that this may boost response rates.

Suggested template text for pre-survey article for external media

You may wish to use the text below to publicise the survey with external media.

Example titles:

  • [NHS Trust name] seeks patient views (For the Community Mental Health survey, use service users (instead of patients) throughout.)
  • Patient views vital to drive service improvements in [NHS Trust name]
  • Your chance to tell [NHS Trust name] about quality of care
  • We [NHS trust name] want to hear about your care

Example text:

[NHS Trust name] is carrying out a survey to find out what patients think about the care they received when they were in [hospital service, such as A&E, maternity, and so on]. The trust plans to use this feedback to improve patients’ experiences, and highlight areas where they perform well and to identify the areas where they need to improve.

Patients who have recently [stayed in/visited A&E] at [Hospital A and Hospital B] may receive a questionnaire in [month/s], asking about their experiences. They will be asked about various aspects of their care, including [the quality of care and treatment, communication with staff, information, and environment of facilities.]

Obtaining feedback from patients and taking account of their views is really important for bringing about improvements in the quality of care.

Results from the survey will be used to [insert purpose of survey here, e.g. to track patients’ experiences of care received at the trust since the last survey was undertaken in [2018] / or to measure the impact of changes made at the trust based on feedback from the [2018] survey / or to find out if recent changes made to the service has led to an improvement in patients’ experiences.]

Results from the [previous year] [name of the survey] helped to identify areas where there was most room for improvement [a summary of the key findings from the previous survey and how the trust acted on the results can be inserted here.]

People’s responses are confidential and the results of the survey will be presented in a form that does not allow any individual’s answers to be identified. The results will be published by [NHS Trust name] in [month and year].

[You are encouraged to insert here a meaningful message from a senior executive at your trust highlighting how valuable survey feedback is to improving service provision].