24 December 2012

Patient Feedback Improvements Welcomed

The health sector has continued to welcome the NHS Commissioning Board’s publication of its planning guidance for commissioners in 2013/14.

Patient Feedback Improvements WelcomedGreater use of patient feedback and transparency are highlighted as good steps forward, although The King’s Fund has raised concerns that the Friends & Family test could be being used to pay for performance.

Dr Michael Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance said: “NHS Alliance welcomes the call for greater transparency of medical outcomes. We believe that patients have equal right as the commissioners to know how well services are performing. The prospect of all patients being able to feedback rapidly on their care by 2015 is a bold move.

“Our Public and Patient Involvement network will play a crucial role in supporting providers and commissioners to be responsive and use patient feedback constructively to improve and inform how services are delivered. We also welcome the broader adoption of the 6Cs but maintain that quality of care and compassionate care should go hand in hand.”

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “This is another positive step from the Government toward delivering a better NHS. We particularly welcome the focus on outcomes and on patient experience. We are also supportive of the plans to start the Friends and Family Test for maternity services next year.

“The focus on increased information about the choices available is very welcome. However, that information will be meaningless unless commissioners ensure real choice is available. We know that, in relation to place of birth, too often this is not the case.

“We believe that if statements in recent government pledges, in the Mandate and in this most recent document are all translated into reality on the ground we will see real improvements in the choices women can make regarding their maternity care.”

The King’s Fund director of policy Anna Dixon said: “The planning guidance sets out the NHS Commissioning Board’s ambitions for the NHS in its new form, with a focus on outcomes and information. While we welcome these ambitions, some commissioners and providers may find it challenging to fully implement the guidance at a time of unprecedented financial constraint. The emphasis on commissioners working closely with health and wellbeing board colleagues is important if they are to achieve these ambitious national priorities and respond to local need.

“The emphasis on improving transparency and making more data available to patients and commissioners is welcome. To be effective, data should give commissioners useful information and help them to hold providers to account and to improve quality. But there are concerns that other measures, like the friends and family test, that are intuitively appealing as a means to drive improvements, are being used to pay for performance.”

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