Embracing Patient Opinion Wholeheartedly

Update from United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust

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The Patient Opinion team recently asked me to talk at a Kings Fund event about how our trust is using Patient Opinion practically to improve services. I was more than happy to, as our trust really is embracing, experimenting and constantly expanding our use of Patient Opinion.

One of the most notable developments as a result of this, is our Chief Executive, Jan Sobieraj’s commitment to engaging with and learning from the feedback we receive, (You can read more about it in my last blog here!) and so he filmed a short video explaining why he thinks PO is making an important difference in our trust. You can watch the video below! Or read what he had to say underneath …                                              

Jan's Video: “When we think about Patient Opinion and the value to the trust, we have to put it into the context of how we use and see patient feedback. So let’s be honest, the organisation that I run and that many people here will know, can get blind; we do the same things every day and as a result of that we don’t see where things go wrong. So fundamentally we have to see patients as supporting staff and the organisation to get better.

Sometimes we don’t see where the infrastructure is wrong, our systems fail and our behaviours aren’t right. And fundamentally we have to see and “weld in” how patients’ feedback. And their perspective of our services can be used in a very positive way to change what we do.

So once we get that right, we then look at how Patient Opinion as an organisation and as a system works. And the first thing it brings is an independence. That’s really important for patients who we know are sometimes troubled by the fairness they see in the way we deal with their concerns, and it’s not always about concerns it’s about compliments too. So Patient Opinion’s independence is really helpful, they’re seen as fair, they’re seen a transparent and they’re seen as honest.

Once the feedback is on, everyone can see what happens next and for me as a chief executive that’s really important. I track the comments that are made by patients. Many as I said are complimentary and that’s as important to me as the ones that aren’t as good and are pointing out failures.

We can see how the organisation responds, we can see how the buzz goes around whenever we get a great compliment, and I personally have taken feedback onto wards. I was in a hospital recently late in the evening, I got one of these notifications and I immediately went onto the ward because I was walking close by, and I said have you seen this, they hadn’t and it was a great little discussion and that little buzz and frizzle went around the organisation very rapidly.

So you can see the impact. And then for us as a learning organisation we can then track the areas that we need to improve on. So the value of independence, the value of transparency and the real opportunity to improve what we do I think is a fundamental bedrock of the value of Patient Opinion and I’m really pleased that we’ve embraced it whole heartedly.”

In my previous blog, I wrote about the importance of positive feedback and sharing it with staff. It really is easy to underestimate the power and importance of sharing the great feedback with our staff, mostly because of the huge boost it gives to staff morale and the simple fact that positivity breeds positivity.

But another key reason it's so important is because there are many structured processes in place for managing problems and complaints, but at the other end of the spectrum, there is no process for routinely sharing and celebrating the positive feedback.

But Patient Opinion is helping to change that, which is why I think it’s so powerful that Jan is equally committed to sharing the amazing feedback we receive. The particular example he gives in the video is so wonderful to hear, because I’m sure the staff on the ward must have been a little worried when they saw the Chief Exec coming onto the ward at that time of night. To have him go out of his way especially to praise them is just fantastic!

Having our CEO and other high level staff getting on board and fully supporting and embracing Patient Opinion across the trust undoubtedly gives it more clout and credibility and consequently instils confidence in our staff.

The feedback gives such valuable insights. Every time I attend a meeting now, Jan and other senior members of staff will refer to a Patient Opinion story. It really is fantastic to see such strong leadership and encouragement for this work from the top of the organisation.

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