"How confidential is Patient Opinion?"

About: Care Opinion Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

(as the patient),

Is the personal information we give to Patient Opinion really kept confidential?

I recently raised an issue on Patient Opinion, wrote privately to the managers of the service involved and complained via PALS. The reply from PALS mentioned that I had already received a response to my complaint via Patient Opinion!

How did they know?

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Response from James Munro, Chief executive, Care Opinion

picture of James Munro

Dear fubar

Thank you for raising this concern with us. I think that if I had had the experience you describe, I would be asking the exact same question myself.

I'm one of the Patient Opinion team and responsible for the security of the website and the confidentiality of your information. Stories on Patient Opinion are moderated by a small number of people in our team, each of whom takes your confidentiality very seriously.

The only information we hold which could identify you is your email address, and your post code. We never, ever, share this information with anyone outside Patient Opinion without your explicit consent, and we never will.

Sometimes, though, we do hear of cases where staff read a story on Patient Opinion and try to guess who the author is. Sometimes, the guess is right, and sometimes wrong. Of course, the more unusual the experience you describe, the bigger the chance someone will know about it and guess right. That may be what happened here.

We can't do anything about people trying to guess the identity of authors - but we do spend a lot of time with health service staff, focusing always on "what can we do better?" and not on "who wrote this about us?"

I hope that reassures you - but do feel free to respond if you still have concerns about this.

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Response from Julie Grant, Head of Communications, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

Dear Fubar

James is correct - because the wording of your posting on Patient Opinion and your more formal letters to the Trust were so similar we took an educated guess that you were the source of each message.

James is also correct in that we have never tried to find out information about who has posted and Patient Opinion has never shared that with us. We respect your confidentiality.

We find Patient Opinion to be an excellent method of capturing feedback, whether good or bad, and we hope that our assumptions about you don't put you off using this less formal and real time method of letting us know what you think about our services.


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