PATIENTS using Scotland’s health services are now able to have their opinions & experiences of using the country’s medical services published online via the new Patient Opinion website, announced today by the Scottish Government’s Health Secretary Alex Neil, who said he wanted to hear patient’s stories first hand whether good or bad to help improve health services. The move follows a £160,000 roll out across health boards including the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS).
Patient Opinion provides a confidential way for patients to share their healthcare experiences, good or bad, online. Comments are then passed to relevant staff who can respond or use the feedback to help change services.
The Scottish Ambulance Service participated in an initial pilot of Patient Opinion and have already used patient feedback to help shape improvements to the Patient Transport Service. This involved enhancing the response to patients with mental health care needs and highlighting positive feedback with staff across the service to share and learn from best practice examples.
Health Secretary Alex Neil said: “We want to hear patient’s stories first hand in their own words, whether it’s good or bad, because it helps us to make our health services better.Now patients, carers and their families will be able to let health boards know, openly and publically, how a service was for them and where it can improve. And if our health professionals are doing a great job we want them to know about it.”
Mr Neil continued : “The best thing is, staff will receive this feedback in real-time rather than having to wait months for the results of our traditional paper surveys. Many of these stories can be inspirational and where our health professionals are doing a great job we want them to know about it. I hope it will be a more accessible way for patients and families to give their views, and will add to the tools that NHS boards already have in place to get feedback from patients. Every organisation takes feedback from customers very seriously and the NHS should be no different. The NHS belongs to everyone and they should have a say in how its run and what they want.”
Pauline Howie, Chief Executive, Scottish Ambulance Service, said: “The Scottish Ambulance Service recognises that it’s helpful for patients and carers to have a wide range of options for giving feedback on their care experience. Patient Opinion is an increasingly useful feedback channel, which is helping the Service improve patient care.”
Dr Paul Hodgkin, Chief Executive of Patient Opinion, said: “Lots of people have already taken the opportunity to share their stories on Patient Opinion. We want to encourage even more people to get involved in making our health services even better by sharing their experiences and watching what happens as a result.”
Tom Waterson, Chair, UNISON Scotland’s Health Committee said: “Unison welcomes the Health Secretary’s move to encourage “real-time” dialogue between health boards, staff and patients. Patient stories can make a difference in many ways, both to the quality of care and the morale of hard working NHS staff in their desire to deliver world class care. They can be powerful motivational reminders to frontline staff of how they are making a difference to someone’s life and play an important role in educating the healthcare professionals of the future.”
One patient has already seen how the Scottish Ambulance Service has taken on board patient feedback through the website.
After feeding back about their experience, the user posted: “I would like to briefly update this. Since writing about my experience here I have had very helpful and reassuring conversations with the Scottish Ambulance Service. At a face-face meeting I was able to talk through what happened and ask some questions that I had. I felt comfortable and free to say what I needed to and I feel very validated and understood. I thank the staff members of the Scottish Ambulance Service who talked with me for their time and understanding.”
From today, the service will be available for the following health boards to respond to feedback from patients: NHS Highland, NHS Shetland, NHS Ayrshire & Arran, Scottish Ambulance Service, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, and National Education Scotland. The remaining health boards will be asked to adopt the service by the end of the year.