A chief executive’s perspective on Patient Opinion

Update from Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

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About: Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

We’ve used Patient Opinion in my trust since 2012. And I may be an unusual CEO, but I love it. It’s a really useful tool.

I get email alerts when stories and responses are published. I never feel I get too many – I like to read them as I’m going round the hospital, or sometimes at weekends. They are fascinating, and cover important themes: access, quality, safety, patient experience. It is easy and it only takes a few minutes to read the feedback each day.

File:Entrance to East Surrey Hospital - geograph.org.uk - 1214874.jpg

Personally, I find the stories people share act as a good “barometer” of how things are going in the hospital. They correlate well with what’s happening. When A&E is quiet, we see lots of good feedback – but when it gets busy, we start to see stories about things we need to change or do better.

When I see positive feedback, I’ll often email the team to say thank you. If I see the same issue come up a few times, I’ll email to ask what we’re doing about it. Staff are absolutely delighted when they get positive feedback. And increasingly, they take local ownership of their feedback too. They respond online, and take great pride in their services. Occasionally, we’ll see a complaint follow a story on Patient Opinion, and we’ll look back and ask if we could have responded better when the patient posted the story.

We’ve learnt a lot from the feedback we get on Patient Opinion. Our culture is becoming more open. It’s helped us adjust our thinking, and ask whether the way we’ve done things in the past is still the right way for the future. Our trust is one of five in England working with the Virginia Mason Institute to use a “lean” management system in our hospital, and we find Patient Opinion fits very well into that way of thinking.

Really, I’d like to see us using Patient Opinion even more than we do now.

Response from Richard Morris on

An interesting post which challenges the perception that you learn most from negative feedback. I note that your director Neil Mackenzie only tweets about good news. Perhaps you are not so interested in complaints?

With regard to 'looking back' I'd draw your attention to a post from three months ago (https://www.patientopinion.org.uk/opinions/252662) on blood appointments. A follow up is promised by Mike Rayment but it hasn't appeared.

In general it seems to me your responses to complaints are of the generic 'email me' type and give no indication of changes or improvements made, if any.

Response from Nathan Trevena, Student Nurse, Plymouth University on

this is fantastic to see.  patient opinion being taken to the CEO and it being acted upon.  This is excellent and gives more hope as a student nurse for the future of the nhs.

Response from Cathy White, Patient Experience Lead, Patient Experience Team, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust on

Dear Richard, Thanks for your comments.  I administer Patient Opinion on behalf of our clinical staff.  As I see so many comments and responses that are made I wanted to let you know why some of our responses may be considered generic.  Patient Opinion is a public forum and as I'm sure you'll understand, this is not the right place to continue conversations that might possibly contain confidential or sensitive information.  In many instances these conversations do continue off-line between the person who has posted the comment and a member of our staff.  Mike Rayment has seen your comments and is planning to update the post you refer to.  You may be interested to know that we have a live feed of all Patient Opinion comments, which cover a wide variety of opinions, on the home page of our website. Cathy White

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