I’ve now carried out 30 interviews for the INQUIRE study with people who have been telling me about their experiences of using online platforms to give feedback, or comment on their health services experiences. One thing that often crops up in these conversations is that people are often very unclear how to go about giving feedback to the NHS. There seems to be a lot of confusion around whether feedback can be given online, and which website you might use for this.
“I personally, am not familiar with what feedback channels the NHS uses or relies on, so, you know, if you’ve got an NHS Trust, what is the feedback channel?”
“Through my whole NHS experience, it was never mentioned to me how to feedback or would I feedback or is there anything I could feedback on”
I wanted to give positive feedback about a particular member of staff and I had to email the patient complaints people and say, “How do I give positive feedback?” And they said, “Oh use the same address as this.” I said, “Well, you might want to change your branding then because you’ve got this as patient complaints.”
Some participants, like Wendy , who has early onset dementia, question whether the NHS are particularly interested in receiving feedback. As she pointed out, although there is a feedback box on the counter of the department she attends, staff gave her the impression that it wasn’t often utilised.
“We asked for the feedback form and no one knew where it was. There was this box on the table to put the feedback form in [um] but someone had to go hunting to find the feedback form”
Confusion also seems to surround the variety of different online portals that might be used for feedback. Many of the people I’ve interviewed have been somewhat baffled by the different online spaces where they might potentially either leave comments, or read about others’ experiences. Certainly many people I’ve spoken to have only discovered comments sections on NHS websites by using a search engine to find what they were looking for. People are also uncertain about which part of the NHS to give their feedback – to the hospital Trust, to individual departments, to particular practitioners, to front line staff?
The research interviews have also thrown up a number of other questions, not least of which is about the purpose of feedback… Is it to complain about service experiences?
Should that be done by another route?
Or do people sometimes just want to feed-back issues that they think it’s important for service providers to hear, as a learning tool for example?
Finally, do people only give feedback when they’ve had a bad experience? Well, no, not according to the people I’ve spoken to so far. Sometimes they really want to pass on their thanks, and to express how much an aspect of their care really helped them. They feel that this could really help to boost staff morale, as well as be helpful for staff training and service development, so that commissioners of services, and other stakeholders, know what works, and what matters to patients.
So the research is throwing up as many questions as answers!
What do you think? Does this resonate with your own experiences? We’d be really interested to hear what you think!
We are still interviewing people for this study. If you would like to take part in an interview about your own experiences of using online platforms to comment about your health service experiences you can contact Susan directly on email@example.com for more information.
Or leave a comment below, we’d like to know what you think.
Susan Kirkpatrick, Senior Researcher, INQUIRE study