Our Val said it in her October blog Where Participation gets Personal where she mourned the continuing reluctance of senior managers in a hospital and partners in GP practices to act on data from patients and their carers. She was thinking in particular of the information available informally from patients and their carers with direct and recent experience of health and social care services. This adhoc source is often available more cheaply than the structured survey and is there to be tapped into without the delay associated with commissioning research or waiting for national figures.
A September 2010 report from Dr Foster in the Intelligent Board Series ‘Patient Experience‘ talked in its turn about reducing the disconnect between the data – of whatever sort – and subsequent action. One of their key findings was how few examples they found of ‘local patient experience priorities or targets being set as part of annual plans and tracked accordingly’. Now this week, the NHS Confederation has underlined – yet again – why this matters, making the point in their report ‘Feeling Better? Improving Patient Experience in Hospital’ that a better patient experience makes for better clinical outcomes at less cost. If patients feel good, they get well faster.
All our experience of service improvement shows that when it becomes second nature to integrate user-originated data into management decision making – not because the NHS Operating Framework 2011-12 insists that “the patient experience is a key arbiter of all NHS services” – but because it is ‘what we do around here’ ( the best working definition of organisational culture), then the battle is won.
This is worth bearing in mind as the NHS convulses in the grip of another change spasm. Do we really need a report every three months saying that the patient experience is important and must be integrated into management thinking and planning? Is this another example of change getting in the way of improvement? How long must we wait before this becomes part of the DNA of the NHS?
The Moore Adamson Craig Partnership supports user and public participation, trains lay representatives and develops responsive health, care and education organisations. We are ready to work with and support all those who want to make sense and a success of the new structures of patient and public engagement within the new arrangements for health and social care commissioning and providing. Feel free to contact us to discuss the opportunities.