Good scores for Sheffield hospitals in new test

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Sheffield’s hospitals have scored well during the first three months of a new scheme to gauge patients’ opinions on their care - but city health chiefs have encouraged more people to give their feedback to boost response rates.

Today NHS England published the first results of the Friends and Family Test, with more than 1,600 patients in Sheffield giving their answer to a single question - whether they would recommend their ward or A&E department to their friends or family if they needed similar care or treatment.

The majority of patients who had received care in inpatient wards or A&E at the Royal Hallamshire and Northern General hospitals in the last three months said they were ‘extremely likely’ or ‘very likely’ to recommend to others the department where they were treated.

At Sheffield’s adult accident and emergency unit, at the Northern General, 368 patients said they were ‘extremely likely’ to recommend their care in June, with just two saying they were ‘extremely unlikely’.

In total 720 patients at the Northern General responded, with 696 giving their care a good score.

Meanwhile, of the 636 inpatients at the Royal Hallamshire who responded to the question last month, 621 said they were happy to make a recommendation.

At Weston Park Hospital, only 15 patients filled in the survey, though 14 said they were ‘extremely likely’ or ‘likely’ to recommend their ward or department.

Overall, 5,215 inpatients were eligible to answer the question in June, with 1,131 taking part, a response rate of more than a quarter. In A&E, 6,625 were eligible and 514 responded.

The overall response rate in Sheffield was 11.8 per cent.

Sir Andrew Cash, chief executive of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It’s early days for the new test, which is reflected in the slowly increasing response rate to the postcard patients are given when then are discharged.

“I would, however, encourage all our patients who are cared for on a ward or in the A&E department to take five minutes to complete the postcard they are given because their response really does make a difference.

“We will be publishing not just the results of the monthly test on our website but also where we have made improvements, based on the information patients have provided. We will also highlight where staff have gone above and beyond their normal duties to provide excellent care or customer service.”

Prof Hilary Chapman, the trust’s chief nurse, added: “Asking patients for their views on the care and service we provide is not new, and for many years here in Sheffield we have used surveys, complaints and compliments, as well as patient groups to find out where we are doing well, but more importantly to know where we could do better.

“The Friends and Family Test is another very important way in which patients can give us their feedback quickly and simply and most importantly we can then pass on the anonymised comments to individual departments and wards each month so that they can consider where improvements could be made or, indeed, pass on well-deserved praise to their teams.”

The NHS plans to extend the test to maternity services in October and to GP practices, community services and mental health services by the end of December 2014, with all other services following by the end of March 2015.

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