Mystery Shoppers in the NHS

Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust plans to use patients to covertly investigate how its wards, sites and staff are performing in the same way that the retail and hospitality industries use mystery shoppers to measure customer service.

According to the trust's chief executive Claire Murdoch, herself a qualified mental health nurse, the idea of introducing 'mystery shoppers' on wards was intended to bring a 'fresh pair of eyes' to the day-to-day working of the organisation.

They would be asked to assess whether the various parts of the trust were welcoming, whether there was a positive attitude among staff, whether the right information was being provided to service users and carers and whether the wards were clean.

'This is about trying to help staff. It is not about catching people out,' she said.

Ms Murdoch told Nursing Times that those chosen to become mystery shoppers would be drawn from the trust's patient and service user groups, and governors. The scheme is due to start in September.

However, she also said she was considering using trust staff as mystery shoppers to assess sites different from those they worked on.

'We would have to make sure that people were trained to do this, to understand what is good and bad practice, what to feed back instantly and what to feed back to the board,' she added.

Do you think this is a good idea or do you think this is another pressure on already over burdened NHS Staff? Why not have your say on the Dignity Champions "Discuss and Debate" forum.