Can Patient Ratings Highlight NHS Failings?

2nd December 2013

While the majority of patients are satisfied with their treatment, there are frequent complaints about the service provided in hospitals and other sources of medical care.

At Fletchers we see many examples of these complaints but countless more will soon be in the public domain with the launch of a ‘TripAdvisor-style’ website, which will allow people to review their experiences at our hospitals.

Many of you may be unaware of a three-month trial of the website – named Care Connect (*website not available anymore) – that has been operating in London and the North East. But a quick look at the site reveals that plenty of people have had their say on their treatment at medical facilities within the 20 hospitals trusts in those areas.

Patients can rate hospitals on a scale of one to five stars and it’s important to recognise that many of the reviews are positive. There are however some stinging and serious criticisms ranging from complaints about A&E to maternity wards, nursing standards, missing diagnoses and much more besides.

Reviews and complaints are moderated to avoid defamatory comments and issues are taken up by the relevant hospital, while users can remain anonymous should they wish to. The NHS director in charge of patients and information, Tim Kelsey, has proclaimed the trial a success and it will therefore be rolled out across the country in 2014.

A big question remains – is all of this a good idea? After all, rating budget accommodation in Thailand on Trip Advisor doesn’t work to identical principles when compared to reviewing experiences in A&E at a hospital in Newcastle.

What has already been revealed through the trial though is that complaints are being voiced, listened to and dealt with. A patient’s ability to make a complaint (or of course to provide positive feedback) has been enhanced and Care Connect seems simple enough to use.

The chance for others to view the feedback is also important and ties in with the aims of the NHS to become more open and transparent in the wake of high-profile scandals such as Mid Staffordshire.

This openness and transparency should be welcomed, as improvements to the way hospitals are managed and treat their patients can only be made if people are aware of what’s going wrong.

As can be seen on the Care Connect website, some complaints are more serious than others. Where a duty of care has been breached and medical negligence has occurred, it may be the case that a patient needs to go beyond putting a review on the internet.

In such instances, Fletchers Solicitors can help. It can seem like a bigger step than posting a complaint on a website but our specialist team will assist you along the way. If you want to take that complaint a step further, contact us and our experts will be there for you from day one.

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