Calling all the Lurkers

Update from NHS Ayrshire & Arran

Posted by on

About: Crosshouse Hospital / Accident & Emergency

picture of Claire Gilroy

I am a self-confessed Care Opinion Lurker. My Lurking began after I was introduced to the site two years ago by one of my Consultant friends. I liked to read the latest stories. It gave me an insight into how patients, relatives and even colleagues experienced our services. I also have to confess that I often read stories from other healthboards just to be nosey!

How does a lurker progress to being a responder? The more you read the more you naturally want to give your opinion. I think particularly when the feedback is about your own service.

My progress was very slow. I only started responding a few weeks ago. The main barrier was I didn’t know how to become a responder. Who did I need permission from? It turned out to be a very easy process. I approached Eunice Goodwin our Patient Feedback Manager and she set up an account for me. Simple as that.

I am an advocate for front line staff responding on Care Opinion and here is why;

  1. You can share the feedback with ALL staff not just senior managers. The majority of feedback is positive and sharing this information boosts staff morale. I am also a firm believer that we can learn from excellence and therefore there is scope to look at ‘how do we replicate this every time?’.
  2. You choose HOW to feedback the more critical stories. In our department we do this in the same way as the positive stories. Give a summary at the morning huddle, print out the feedback so everyone can read it and ask for suggestions on how to improve our processes.
  3. It is more likely to lead to change. When teams take ownership of feedback they are more likely to want to replicate the good and prevent the bad. Frontline staff hold the answers.
  4.         It is an opportunity to invite service users to help co-produce improvement projects. Co-production is invaluable to all services but it can be difficult to recruit service users to act as lay members.   

Opinion is divided regarding the pros and cons of Care Opinion amongst clinicians and managers in our organisation. Many view it as ‘Trip Adviser for Hospitals’ and others feel uncomfortable with feedback not being received through formal channels. I understand these opinions. However, responding to feedback on Care Opinion is not the same as complaint handling. The purpose is to improve NHS services by identifying areas for improvement through the feedback provided. There is evidence that Care Opinion can lead to a decrease in the number of formal complaints received by an organisation.

At present only 3% of stories on Care Opinion lead to change. The best way to improve this is to have more frontline staff responding. So…are you a lurker? Why not become a responder? You know you want to!

Response from Sandra Hanlon, Ward 2E- Dermatology and Dermtology OP, Crosshouse Hospital, NHS Ayrshire and Arran on

I confess that I too was a lurker and it took me a while to make the leap to become a responder.  If a patient or relative takes the time to post their story on website then I feel that they deserve a timely response from the staff who provide the care and my experience has been that positive feedback boosts team morale.  

I found it very daunting when responding to any negative post as I always worried that I would make a situation worse but found that an open and honest apology is a good start even if I cannot implement any change.  Eunice Goodwin has also provided much needed support and guidance when responding, so I would encourage more staff to get involved.


Response from Geoff Coleman on

Response to Claire Gilroy

Thanks for the blog addressed to "Lurkers". I wonder if the fact that, as of this morning, only 32 people have read it indicates that many don't consider themselves Lurkers, or whether it indicates that we need much more awareness about the existence of Care Opinion.

Anyway, there is a lot of common sense in the blog.  However, I am a bit disappointed, though not surprised, that some clinicians and managers she has spoken to have some reservations about the website and express their discomfort at being commented on through "informal" channels.  I believe that we should all welcome comments, whether positive or negative, from the people we serve in our professional lives.  After all if people hold opinions about the way I interact with them I would rather know what they are and, if necessary, take a long hard look at how I operate.

In my professional capacity I work with a number of mental health service users and their family carers, through a group established to give them the confidence to become involved in helping NHS A&A continually to pursues service improvements and developments.  Initially, some managers were reluctant to accept the legitimacy of this group, fearing, I suppose, that it would be nothing more than a complaint forum.  Certainly, in the beginning there could be elements of negativity.  However, before long both members and managers began to find it useful to know what the users of our services were feeling.  Today, we have reached the happy state where managers will approach me with a request to meet with the group.  In this case, familiarity has bred acceptance.

On a personal level, after a spell in hospital for orthopaedic surgery, I poste a blog (largely positive I'm pleased to say), on the predecessor website - Patient Opinion.  Shortly afterwards, at an outpatient follow-up appointment, the Consultant thanked me for the comments.  This came as a surprise because I had previously been somewhat cynical about the value of commenting.  I am now a convert, and would encourage all staff, whatever their role, to cast aside doubts and embrace the fact that a channel exists for people to express their opinions.  They may be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.


Response from Claire Gilroy, Specialty Doctor, Emergency Department, University Hospital Crosshouse, NHS Ayrshire and Arran on

Hi Geoff,

Thanks for your comments. I wonder whether I could contact you off line to find out more about your group? We run a GoShadow programme within the Emergency Department and we would like to look at other ways to engage with our service users.

You may be interested to know that in fact the blog has been read more than 1800 times in just a couple of weeks. 32 is the number of people who have clicked to say they have found it useful. I think the tide may be turning!


Response from DCHUNG on

I think it would be really useful to formalise requests for ID from these posts. there seems to be a lot of positive feedback and I think staff are unaware a patient they have treated is being positive.

Response from the equaliser on

Hi Clare, I only became aware of this site today through your post and I hope to both lurk and respond. Truly listening to people can lead to change and improvement and its good to embrace rather than be scared of it.

This blog post is closed to responses.


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