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Feeling better? Improving patient experience in hospital

A report published by the NHS Confederation last week (6 January) argues that the importance of patient experience should not be forgotten amid efforts to find savings and efficiencies in the health service.

A new NHS Confederation report, Feeling better? Improving patient experience in hospital, looks at what we know about improving patients' experiences of hospital care.

The report says that well informed patients who feel they are listened to and are comfortable in their surroundings are less likely to develop complications or need readmission. It also cites case studies from the US which suggest that this can also lead to better performance against measures of mortality as well as producing better long-term health prospects for patients.

Case studies

Along with case studies outlining how some hospitals have worked to improve patient experience, the report provides a checklist to help organisations improve.

Strategy

The report says a successful strategy to improve patient experience needs to develop strong leadership, be implemented across the whole hospital, change behaviours as well as just structures, engage patients and their families, and fully involve medical staff.

Jo Webber, NHS Confederation deputy director of policy, said that running a modern health service demands a patient-centred approach. “We hear a great deal about the need to focus on the patient but we need to be honest about what that means and whether our organisations are really achieving the kinds of standards of patient experience they should be,” she said.

“There has been huge progress in recent years on things like the time people are waiting for care and the standard of the treatment they receive. It is now appropriate for us to be looking at the kinds of experiences people get in hospital as well.

“Simple things like spending time with patients, talking to them, listening to their concerns and addressing issues like noise, privacy and the quality of food, can make a huge difference.

“People who have a better experience in these terms are happier, healthier and do better. That ultimately means they will also cost the hospital less to get back on their feet again as well as being less likely to be readmitted

“One of the most concerning things about the situation that developed at Mid Staffordshire Hospital, which this report reflects upon, was the sense that patients were not being listened to and that even people who received satisfactory care, reported that their experiences were not very positive.

“Poor patient experience is often indicative of deeper, more worrying concerns and as such is something everyone in the NHS needs to take very seriously.” 

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