News story: More than 5,000 patients carry out hospital inspections

Since April, teams of patient inspectors have carried out more than 4,600 ward inspections across the country covering things that matter most to patients - being treated in a clean, safe environment, tasty nutritious food, and high standards of privacy and dignity.

Early examples show that the inspections are particularly helpful for seeing hospitals through older patients’ eyes. Changes are already being seen as a result of the inspections. St James’s University Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary have made changes to the signs at the hospitals so it is easier for patients to find their way around, and have installed benches along some of the longer corridors, where older patients found that the walk could be tiring.

The programme has seen:

  • more than 5,000 patients taking part in the first set of inspections
  • more than 4,600 wards inspected at over 1,300 sites, including more than 200 from the independent sector
  • all eligible trusts taking part, despite the scheme being voluntary
  • more than 400 inspections of mental health services
  • more than a quarter (26.5%) of hospitals had more volunteers than they needed
  • 90% of inspectors questioned said they would do it again

Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter has today written to NHS chief executives, thanking them for their commitment to the programme and their willingness to embrace it.

He said:

I want to thank every patient who took part – we need patient views and input like this if we are going to make the kinds of changes the Francis Inquiry highlighted.

These inspections mean that managers and clinicians can see how patients see their hospital – it really is through the patients’ eyes. Since April this year we have now seen over 5,000 patients inspect over 4,000 wards, and we’ve collected over half a million patients’ feedback through the Friends and Family Test.

The NHS has embraced the need for more patient feedback – these are the seeds of lasting culture change.

Neil Churchill, Director of Improving Patient Experience at NHS England, said:

We need a step change in the involvement of patients in measuring and improving quality and these assessments are a clear step in the right direction, giving an equal voice to patients and staff in assessing the quality of the care environment.

Our challenge now is to listen to those voices and act on what we hear, reporting back what has been done and so providing clear evidence that ‘you said, we did’ in our quest to improve the experience of patients.

Detailed results of the first inspections are due to be published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre later this month.

Hospitals will receive a rating on each area at the end of their inspection, and the results will be published online. Hospitals are also required to publish what they will do in response to the results.

Patient-led inspections were announced by the Prime Minister in January 2012 and started in April 2013.

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