The NHS also states that it is the duty of patients to provide feedback on the quality of services (both positive and negative) and that this feedback can be given anonymously and “will not adversely affect your care or how you are treated.”
However, fresh research carried out by Fletchers proves that the NHS is losing its ability to listen to patients, meaning that a key foundation and safeguard to the future success of the NHS is being seriously undermined.
A survey of 2,000 patients (conducted on behalf of Fletchers by OnePoll in December 2013) shows that the vast majority of us choose not to tell the NHS when we believe something is wrong. For every complaint that is made, there are two complaints that people choose not to make.
So why are we keeping silent? Worryingly, the main reason for our silence is that we don’t believe anyone will listen to what we have to say. This belief has been underlined for many of us by recent negative headlines showing persistent failings in patient care.
However, what the research also tells us is that people genuinely love the NHS and have (overall) a very positive experience of using its services. If the NHS could only be better at listening when things do go wrong, its relationship with patients would be much improved.
So why do we at Fletchers care about this? We care because our days are spent talking to many people who don’t feel the NHS has listened to them when things have gone wrong. Sometimes a legal remedy is a necessary option to provide the money required to help people get their lives back on track, but often the biggest motivation is simply to get the NHS to listen to what went wrong and ensure it doesn’t happen again.
To help improve the NHS’ ability to listen, we’re launching our own Listening Project. Throughout the next 12 months, we’ll be focusing on the findings from our research and asking patients to contribute their own thoughts and experiences.
Towards the end of 2014, we will be presenting this back to the NHS in a report containing our findings and recommendations for how the NHS could be better at listening to alleviate its current issues and provide a better service in the future.
To get involved, send us your thoughts through email, Facebook or over Twitter using the hashtag #NHSListening.