Sefton GPs asked to keep things simple when seeking patient feedback

As part of the #ItStartsWithYou campaign, Healthwatch Sefton and the local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are calling on GP practices in Sefton, as the front line of the health service, to send a strong cultural signal to patients that the NHS is open and interested in listening to their views.

Healthwatch Sefton and the CCGs are also encouraging GPs and other primary care staff to share their own stories to tell them how patient feedback has helped them to learn and improve the way they provide care.

New research by health and care champion Healthwatch England adds to a growing evidence base that people recognise the pressures the NHS is under and want to help make it better by sharing their feedback.

The key to turning the public’s willingness to provide feedback into useful insight is to keep it simple. People are confident GPs take their comments and concerns seriously. Yet three out of four people (76%) have never given feedback, most commonly because they don’t know how to.

According to polling carried out by YouGov for Healthwatch, 76% of adults in England would be interested in sharing their feedback with GPs to improve services but only 23% said that they had actually provided feedback.

Of those people who had provided feedback, the most popular option was the traditional comments box (44%), followed by face-to-face feedback to GP practice reception staff (18%) and to the GP themselves (16%).

When those who had never provided feedback were asked which methods would encourage them to do so in future, 30% said they were mostly likely to respond to text or email follow-ups after a consultation, with 28% again opting for a comments box.

Interestingly social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook were the least popular forum, with just 3% of those who had provided feedback choosing to do so via social media. This would suggest using confidential channels is another key element of sharing feedback with GPs.

Imelda Redmond, National Director of Healthwatch England, said: “People tell us they want providing feedback to be simple, clear and confidential. Healthwatch is here to help busy surgeries not only improve how they seek feedback but also help GPs and practices managers explain how this insight is being used to give people the care they want.”

Rob Caudwell, local Doctor and chair at NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said: “We value the daily feedback we receive from our patients in consultations and comments provided in the surgery. We always want to do the best for our patients and work in partnership with them, welcoming comments from patients about what is working well in the practice as well as good ideas about how services could improve.”

Andrew Mimnagh, local Doctor and chair at NHS South Sefton CCG, said: “We particularly value the support of Sefton patients in working with us to highlight the impact of years of restricted funding on general practice and the wider NHS. Your views are important so please do feedback through Healthwatch Sefton.”

People in Sefton can also pass on their experience of using social care and health services to Healthwatch Sefton by leaving feedback on their website: www.healthwatchsefton.co.uk