Analysis

Care providers urged to make better use of patient feedback to improve services

National Institute for Health Research review says NHS mental healthcare trusts should use patient feedback to create meaningful change
Picture is vector image of emoji icons representing moods ranging from sad to happy. A review finds few NHS mental healthcare providers use inpatient feedback to improve services.

National Institute for Health Research review says NHS mental healthcare trusts should use patient feedback to create meaningful change

  • Staff should be given time to learn how to interpret and use feedback data
  • Supporting nurses to use feedback would help them work with service users on improvements
  • Patients and their families should be active partners in implementing changes to services

Few NHS mental healthcare providers use feedback to improve care services, according to research that forms part of a major review into patient experience data.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) review looked at nine new research studies to explore how patient feedback can be used better.

One of the studies,

...

National Institute for Health Research review says NHS mental healthcare trusts should use patient feedback to create meaningful change

  • Staff should be given time to learn how to interpret and use feedback data
  • Supporting nurses to use feedback would help them work with service users on improvements
  • Patients and their families should be active partners in implementing changes to services
Picture is vector image of emoji icons representing moods ranging from sad to happy. A review finds few NHS mental healthcare providers use inpatient feedback to improve services.
Picture: iStock

Few NHS mental healthcare providers use feedback to improve care services, according to research that forms part of a major review into patient experience data.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) review looked at nine new research studies to explore how patient feedback can be used better.

One of the studies, the EURIPIDES research project, involved a team from universities in Birmingham, London, Sheffield and Warwick. It will be published in full later this year.

Half of trusts could not use feedback to drive change

The researchers examined how patient experience data and feedback are obtained in inpatient mental healthcare settings and how such information can be used to create meaningful change.

78%

of patient experience leads contributed to the Euripides study

They found that just 27% of organisations collect patient feedback to improve services actively.

Of those trusts that do, only one quarter put their feedback to good use, but even these still mainly use it to create environmental change rather than to change services.

They found 22% struggled to collect feedback and 51% collected feedback but could not use it to drive change.

The team also did in-depth case study research at six NHS trusts and found that patients:

  • Are never too unwell to say if they are having a bad or good experience. Everyone should be asked about this and listened to.
  • Prefer to give feedback about staff, the culture on the ward and overall experience at the end of their admission in case it influences their care during their stay.
  • Are more likely to give honest feedback to staff they feel they know and trust, so staff need time and skills to gather this feedback.

Staff should be encouraged to engage in the feedback process

University of Sheffield research fellow Elizabeth Taylor Buck says: ‘NHS staff should be encouraged to engage in the feedback process and be given timely access to patient experience data, not only so they can react quickly to complaints, but also to learn what they are doing well for patients and empower them to improve care action plans.’

‘It is time to move on and get richer data and think harder about how we are going to support nurses to use it and work with service users to improve things’

Elaine Maxwell, co-author of NIHR study

The chief investigator of the study, University of Sheffield professor of mental health Scott Weich, says: ‘There will be resource implications for adopting effective models to drive service improvements.

‘But when used alongside patient outcomes and safety data to drive change, this leads to fewer patient safety incidents, better outcomes for patients and staff feeling more empowered to improve services.’

9

research studies were used in the National Institute for Health Research review

Protecting time for staff to learn how to interpret and use feedback data is highlighted in the overall NIHR review, which finds that hearing and acting on patient feedback is complex and challenging for healthcare organisations.

Dedicated staff time would help with understanding of feedback

It suggests a major obstacle to understanding feedback lies in not having staff time dedicated to it, and staff need training to increase their understanding and confidence in different methods of data collection.

King’s College London professor of healthcare quality and innovation Glenn Robert says the NHS needs to break out of a cycle of seeing patients and families ‘solely as passive sources of increasing amounts of anonymous data, which we then collate into metrics and performance dashboards’.

Instead, he says, they should be welcomed much more as active partners in implementing changes to local services directly shaped by their personal experiences.

Wish list of key actions presented to chief nurse for England

A co-author of the NIHR review, NIHR Dissemination Centre clinical adviser Elaine Maxwell, says examining the patient experience research has been an important exercise.

‘Now it is time to move on and get richer data and think harder about how we are going to support nurses to use it and work with service users to improve things.’

A wish list of key actions to take forward following the NIHR review has been presented to chief nurse for England Ruth May and includes a call for staff to be given resources to discuss feedback from patients.

The ideas came from service users, researchers, policymakers, clinical staff, patient experience leads and NHS trust directors who attended a summit about the NIHR review in December.

A spokesperson for NHS England and NHS Improvement says the chief nurse is looking at the action list and will respond in due course.


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