Headlines: July 31st, 2003

Nine out of ten people using the National Health Service rated it as a positive experience, according to one of the biggest studies of patient opinion ever conducted. The 2003 patient survey, found that the vast majority of patients in all areas reported that they had confidence in those who treated them.More than a quarter of a million people took part in the survey, the first to be carried out independently by the Commission for Health Improvement. It looked at three key areas, accident and emergency, outpatient services and primary care.

The findings show that 85% of A&E patients and 94% of outpatients rated the overall standard of care they received as excellent, very good or good. Two thirds of patients said they were examined by a doctor or nurse practitioner within an hour of arriving in accident units. In all three key areas 9 out of 10 patients felt that the health professional they saw listened to what they had to say and more than 90% of those questioned said they had confidence in the person treating them.

The Commission is working to improve patients’ experiences on five fronts – access and waiting, closer relationships, safe, high-quality, coordinated care, better information and more choice and making hospitals clean, comfortable and friendly.

Welcoming the report’s findings the Health Minister, Lord Norman Warner, said the information was important for the public as well as for clinicians, managers and other NHS staff as it was important that patients played a full part in decision making about their care. Where problems were identified at local level, he said, NHS Trusts could use the survey’s findings to make improvements that would help raise standards across the health service.

The surveys of all three areas are published in full at www.chi.nhs.uk http://www.chi.nhs.uk