High NHS satisfaction masks need for change

A SURVEY has found that one in three people in England are worried about basic levels of safety in healthcare with someone they know having experienced a serious mistake, abuse or preventable illness or death – despite 75 per cent saying they get good quality care out of the NHS.

These findings are reported in the first annual report to parliament from Healthwatch England, a consumer health and social care organisation representing 152 local patient groups.

The survey of 2,286 people conducted by YouGov also found that over half of those experiencing poor care in the last three years did not report it because they said they did not trust the system to act, and 61 per cent did not feel they had a clear way of providing feedback on a service. Around half of the respondents felt that that NHS (49%) and social care (48%) staff should treat people who use these services with greater dignity and respect.

Despite the 75 per cent approval rating public, 94 per cent of the public think NHS and social care services could be improved and almost 90 per cent think that the healthcare system needs to change.

Healthwatch England has come up with a set of eight consumer rights to “help people become more empowered and engaged and help service providers and commissioners focus on the things that matter most to users and their carers”. These are:

  • the right to essential services
  • the right to access
  • the right to a safe, dignified and quality service
  • the right to information and education
  • the right to choose
  • the right to be listened to
  • the right to be involved
  • the right to live in a healthy environment.

Anna Bradley, Chair of Healthwatch England, said: "Whether we are visiting A&E or require meals on wheels, the problem is the same. Few of us know what to expect from our care.

"Just seeing ourselves as having rights changes the game. It gets us thinking differently, asking different types of questions and helps us demand the standard of treatment and care we deserve.

"We all need to stop acting like grateful patients and care users, and start to see ourselves as savvy consumers, insisting on our right to safe, dignified and high quality care.

“We are using this report to kick-off a national conversation around consumer rights in health and social care. Over the next 12 months, we will be collecting evidence from across the network of 152 local Healthwatch on whether or not these rights are being respected and will report our findings to Parliament."

Link

Healthwatch England Annual Report 2012/13

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