I was concerned to read a report published last week by the Government’s top health watchdog which said that older people are “suffering in silence” because they are too polite to complain.
Julie Mellor, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, said older people are some of the most frequent users of the NHS but they are less likely to complain about their treatment and care when standards slip to unacceptable levels. The Ombudsman is the final step for people who feel they have been treated unfairly or received a poor service from the NHS in England.
I don’t want Doncaster people of any age to feel they are too polite to make a fuss. I welcome constructive comments about NHS services that will help the organisation I chair make improvements where necessary. Last year’s Francis Report highlighted dreadful care issues at the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust and the consequences of not listening to patients and their carers. Such a terrible situation must never be repeated.
Improving patients’ experience of the NHS is a key aim of Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). By asking for, monitoring and acting on feedback from patients we can help make positive changes to services Doncaster patients say matter most to them.
Doncaster CCG is responsible for commissioning (paying for and organising) health services for over 300,000 Doncaster people. In effect, we are the patients’ champion. It’s a responsibility we take seriously . We want to get it right. That comes by being open and transparent and putting patients and carers at the heart of everything we do.
We gather our patient feedback ‘intelligence’ in many ways from many sources. One of the benefits of being a GP-led organisation is that we have a network of family doctors who are constantly talking to their patients about services and they pick up themes, trends and recurring comments which they pass on to us and we investigate.
We monitor the quality and performance of the health services we buy from other organisations and have regular meetings with them to see how we can make any improvements. We are currently looking at a new system of gathering real-time patient experience in our local hospitals so people will be able to have their say while their thoughts are fresh in their minds. Eventually I would like to see this approach extended across all health and social care organisations operating in Doncaster so we can be alerted when problems occur and quickly take action to remedy them.
Our April Governing Body meeting takes place on Thursday this week and as usual we will start with a ‘patient experience story’. This is an opportunity for members of the public to give a personal account of their experience of the NHS – good and bad. We have heard some powerful and at times moving stories which we learn from.
Dr Nick Tupper, Chairman, Doncaster clinical commissioning group