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Learning from our shared experience

Update from Care Opinion

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picture of James Munro

In the past two weeks we’ve held learning events in Manchester and London for staff wanting to understand more about the value of online feedback in health/care. It has been a pleasure to spend time with curious, thoughtful, committed people from a wide range of organisations including providers, commissioners, healthwatches, healthcare regulators, the ombudsman’s office, academic researchers and educators.

As so often at Care Opinion events, I have found myself energised by the debates and inspired by seeing how people are using online feedback to create positive change in health services. I’m exhausted, but in a very happy way.

And our speakers at these two events have been absolutely brilliant. Their expertise, courage and passion to make things better have been wonderful to witness. At the end of this post I’ve listed all our speakers along with links to their slides and twitter profiles.

So what did I learn?

I won’t attempt to summarise each speaker in turn. Instead, I’ll simply share some reflections of my own from the events as a whole.

First, it is clear that many people still face enormous difficulties around issues you might think would be solved by now. Things like being given clear information about your treatment, being involved in decisions about care, having your questions answered and being able to change an appointment time are still a problem for many.

Anne Cooper in full flow at our Manchester event

And specifically, being able to give feedback in a meaningful way, raising issues that matter to you, or being sure your feedback reached the people it is about are all still things which can’t be taken for granted. Nor can we guarantee that feedback will get any response at all, let alone a meaningful or genuine one. So we still have work to do.

Second, organisations which use Care Opinion well have taken a strategic approach with clear goals in mind. And in return, they have been able to establish a simple, effective feedback channel with patients and families. Over time, they have started to see other, perhaps unanticipated outcomes from online feedback, such as raised staff morale, a growing openness to feedback, iterative service improvements, and a growing sense that formal complaints might be a source of learning too.

Third, there is growing interest in online feedback as a resource for learning, both as a student and in continuing professional development. The stories on Care Opinion are real, recent, local, and provide a rich seam of insight into the real issues people face in accessing and using services today.

And finally, there’s a growing view that general practices could benefit from hearing a far wider range of patient experiences than the “patient participation group” approach allows – but also, that in some practices, the idea of patient feedback still seems to be regarded with suspicion or even hostility. At both events, though, some participants decided that this was an area they were going to work on further.

Speakers and slides

Anne Cooper, formerly chief nurse, NHS Digital: slides

Frazer Underwood, consultant nurse/associate chief nurse, Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust: slides

Leslie Robinson, honorary reader in diagnostic radiography, Salford University: slides

Tessa Richards, Senior editor, patient partnership, BMJ: slides

Karen Holden, Associate Director of Patient Centred Care, Taunton & Somerset NHS FT: slides and video

Caroline Millar, board member, City and Hackney GP Confederation: slides

James Munro, CEO, Care Opinion: slides A and slides B

Sarah Ashurst, subscriber services manager, Care Opinion: slides

Tim Hunt, integration lead, Care Opinion: slides

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