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Being a critical friend - An authors experience of sharing a story

Update from Care Opinion

Posted by on

About: University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust

picture of Tracy Molloy

'Fresh Air Fan' shared their story on Care Opinion after a bad experience during a scan. They tell us about their choice to share a story on Care Opinion over making a complaint and the impact this has had for them.

'Fresh air fan' told us:

The motivation behind choosing Care Opinion to share my experience was due to having a bad experience during a scan that didn’t have to have been that way. It wasn’t as though staff treated me badly or that I was hugely let down. It’s just that I felt some things hadn’t been considered from the patient’s point of view, someone with mild levels of anxiety and claustrophobia. In the pandemic this should have been on someone’s radar. Wearing a mask in a restricted space when you’re already anxious about the reason you’ve been sent for a scan, will obviously cause people more anxiety.

I have a phrase I use with fellow cancer survivors “scanxiety” - which is mostly about the stress of waiting for results after you’ve had a scan, but it applies to the whole process too. I just wanted to get across this to the professionals doing the scan as a bit of understanding about how people may be feeling and it’s importance. We are already not in a great place, so a bit of extra reassurance is definitely needed. I felt like the processes needed to be in place so that staff could try to prevent someone having a panic attack and manage it if it did happen.

Everything was there to make the experience more manageable for someone with anxiety - friendly staff, time to explain the process, information leaflets, separate waiting area but it just wasn’t working properly. I wanted to feedback how it felt so that next time they’d get it right and someone else wouldn’t have to go through what I did. I didn’t consider other options for giving my feedback as I felt Care Opinion offered me the chance to tell my story rather than make a complaint. I definitely didn’t want to complain as they hadn’t done anything "wrong".

It felt empowering to be able to feedback on healthcare 100% from my perspective and with the freedom of anonymity. I had lots to say and there was a lot of baggage there to be honest as someone who has a lot of experience of NHS healthcare, most of it very good, so it was hard to keep things short.

The Care Opinion website was easy to use and at the same time knowing my story would get heard was fantastic, I felt jubilant when I received a response from staff! I really felt listened too and that my experience had been taken seriously and acted on.

Lucy Hodgkiss, Chief Technologist at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust said in the initial response:

"We take the feedback very seriously and if there is an area that we can improve the patient experience then we are glad to have this highlighted".

The first response informed me they were planning to make a change as a direct result of my story and then to receive a second response when those changes had been made was spot on and I really hope they are making a difference. I told a lot of my friends and family about it.

Nicky Beecher, Patient Experience Manager at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust said:

"I thought you might be interested to hear about some of the changes that have happened in the Nuclear Medicine Department as a direct result of your valuable feedback".

Care Opinion is a valuable platform for the public and I think the most important aspect is feeding back on one’s experience, how it felt to you, so that providers can see what being on the receiving end of care is like and whether it’s actually matching the values and ambitions of their service.

Care Opinion is not a consumer complaints /ratings site which isn’t applicable to healthcare. It offers people the chance to be a critical friend which I think is our citizen duty as receivers of free world class care quite frankly!

Read the full author story

'Bone scan at Nuclear Medicine Department'

Response from Nicky Beecher, Patient Experience Manager, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust on

Thank you so much for taking the time to share publicly how posting your feedback  and getting a response has had such a positive impact for you. We don't always hear back after we have responded to feedback so it is very heart warming to know that you found it valuable.

We do very much value all feedback and see it as a great opportunity to learn; many changes and improvements have started with someone like you taking time out of their day to tell us about their experience.  It is also a significant boost to staff morale when people tell us we got it right for them individually and they had a good experience. 

If you would like to share any further feedback please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Best wishes and thank you again.

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