Headlines: August 19th, 1998

The Institute of Health Services Management has given a cautious welcome to the Government’s plans to conduct a nation-wide survey of NHS patients and users.

Mike Lager, Vice-Chair of the IHSM, said the input from patients, carers and
staff was important, but added: “A survey cannot just consist of patients being
asked to tick a yes or no box, or answering multiple choice questions. Detailed opinion should be sought with the opportunity for people to express more general views.”

But he also warned: “It is important that the survey should not become a
bureaucratic public relations exercise. What is important in the Government’s
proposal is regular surveys to produce data on trends and reflect changes of

From this autumn, 150,000 health service users will be polled for their views
in the first annual exercise of its kind. The NHS Executive will use the data
as part of the new National Performance framework, to show where improvements are needed and to make the NHS more responsive to the needs and wishes of patients.