Listening and responding to service user and carer feedback

To be truly responsive to the needs of patients and service users and their carers and relatives services need to ensure they are provided with opportunities to feedback their views on the care they receive and the environment and manner within which it is delivered.

Services then need to demonstrate that they are acting on that feedback and changing their service accordingly.

Different people feel comfortable providing feedback in different ways. Some simply need to be asked and they will provide immediate feedback. This is the most powerful way of seeking feedback as it enables immediate action if problems are identified.

Some Trusts are pioneering hand held devices which are passed around patients. Patients can use the device to answer a few simple survey questions. Their responses are instantly fed electronically to the overall survey results for each question. The results of which are displayed on a public screen. The ward staff have a continuous, real time, picture of patient experience and satisfaction.

For many people, providing feedback is something they prefer to do anonymously or once they have left the care environment. Services can help facilitate this in many ways including suggestion boxes and surveys.

NHS Choices provides a facility for patients to feedback their experiences on their care. Patients can use the site to provide direct and immediate feedback on their experiences in hospital, both good and bad. Staff and managers can view the comments and if they wish they have a right to reply.

At local and national level, the NHS will also be able to use NHS Choices to improve the quality and depth of its engagement with local communities, from online consultations to co-ordinated public health campaigns.

"As a chief executive I am looking forward to NHS Choices delivering up-to-the-minute feedback from patients in a similar way to Expedia or eBay. That "customer insight" is a powerful incentive for us to improve our services. Anything that helps us to get better is good news for the trust and great news for patients" Gavin Boyle, chief executive, Yeovil District Hospital Foundation Trust

Dignity Champions are encouraged to post here examples of how they are listening and responding to service user and carer feedback to improve dignity in care and any resources they find helpful.