NHS needs to act on patient feedback, say Sheffield health researchers

October 10, 2019

Researchers from the University of Sheffield School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) are today making a series of recommendations for NHS mental health trusts to change the way they collect and use patient feedback to improve the quality of care for inpatients.

As part of the study, staff and patients were interviewed across NHS mental health trusts in England, and it was found that few are collecting patient feedback to actively improve services.

Of those trusts that do, only a quarter were putting their feedback to good use but still mainly used it to create environmental change, rather than change to services.

The collaborative study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), and a team from the Universities of Sheffield, Warwick, Birmingham and Queen Mary University in London, together with the Mental Health Foundation have today published a new policy briefing into its findings.

'Evaluating the Use of Patient Experience Data to Improve the Quality of Inpatient Mental Health Care' (EURIPIDES) found that service improvements should never be led by complaints alone; but by listening to what works well for patients, NHS trusts have a real opportunity to empower both staff and patients.

Dr Elizabeth Taylor Buck, a Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield, said: "NHS trusts are required to collect patient feedback, but there was little evidence about what they should be asking their patients, or how they collect and use it."

A key finding that could change the way NHS mental health trusts collect patient experience data was that patients staying on mental health wards are never too ill to give feedback, but prefer to do so towards the end of a hospital stay to clinicians they know and trust.

Even so, it was found that it was also important that those clinicians not only provided the opportunity for an ongoing dialogue about a patient's care during their stay, but for their relatives, carers or guardians to be able to feedback without the fear of negative repercussions for the patient.

"To create meaningful change and ensure patient voices are heard, NHS staff need to be given the right skills and supported to create time to collect appropriate feedback in the right way," said Dr Taylor Buck.

"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."

The briefing has been published ahead of the full study, which makes 18 key practice recommendations for how NHS mental health trusts collect and use patient feedback.

Scott Weich, Professor of Mental Health at the University of Sheffield and chief investigator of the study, said: "Our policy briefing published today highlights the key findings and our guidance for NHS mental health trusts in how they can make best use of their valuable patient experience data.

"We have engaged NHS stakeholders at every step of the study to ensure our findings were practicable, so today we are calling on organisations like NHS England, the Department of Health and Care Quality Commission to support the NHS providers to implement the upcoming recommendations and drive service improvements centred around patient needs.

"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."

Dr Taylor Buck added: "The take-home message of this study is that no one is too ill to provide feedback on their care and that clinicians that build trusted relationships with their patients have the opportunity to provide quality care where patients feel they are being listened to."
-end-
Notes to editors:

- More information about EURIPIDES and the policy briefing can be found on the ScHARR pages here: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/scharr/sections/hsr/mhru/mhresearch/euripides/index

- The full study is due to be published in 'Health Services and Delivery Research' available at the NIHR Journals Library in the new year.

- This research was funded by the NIHR's Health Services and Delivery Research Programme.

The University of Sheffield

With almost 29,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world's leading universities.

A member of the UK's prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2018 and for the last eight years has been ranked in the top five UK universities for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

About the National Institute for Health Research

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the nation's largest funder of health and care research. The NIHR:

- Funds, supports and delivers high quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care

- Engages and involves patients, carers and the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research

- Attracts, trains and supports the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future

- Invests in world-class infrastructure and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services

- Partners with other public funders, charities and industry to maximise the value of research to patients and the economy

The NIHR was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. In addition to its national role, the NIHR commissions applied health research to benefit the poorest people in low- and middle-income countries, using Official Development Assistance funding.

This work uses data provided by patients and collected by the NHS as part of their care and support and would not have been possible without access to this data. The NIHR recognises and values the role of patient data, securely accessed and stored, both in underpinning and leading to improvements in research and care. http://www.nihr.ac.uk/patientdata

University of Sheffield

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