Headlines: October 12th, 1998

The health check on satisfaction levels in the NHS is underway. Questionnaires are being posted to people who use the service for the first national survey of patients.Independent survey organisations will be asking people for their views on ease of access to services, length of wait for treatment, quality of information provided about treatment, efficiency of treatment and courtesy and helpfulness of staff.

Health Minister, Baroness Hayman, said ” We have started with family doctors services because for many people they are the first and most frequent point of contact with the NHS. We want to know what aspects of their local service people are happy with and where they think improvements might be made.

“I hope everyone who receives a questionnaire through the post will take the time to let us have their views as this is an opportunity to help the NHS improve the services it provides.”

Further surveys are planned focused on patients’ experiences of cancer and coronary heart disease services.

Health Authorities and NHS Trusts will need to demonstrate that they have taken action to address issues raised by the surveys. The data will also feature in the new National Performance Framework, to show where improvements are needed and to boost performance.

The Government’s intention to carry out a national survey of patient and user experience was re-affirmed in the consultation document A First Class Service: Quality in the NHS published in July.