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Lost in translation

19th September 2006

19092006_opinion_poll1.jpgA new report by the NHS Confederation considers why the public think the NHS is in crisis yet patients consistently report high levels of satisfaction with the care they receive.

Public satisfaction ratings for a range of NHS services are consistently lower than the ratings given by patients.

According to Ipsos MORI the combined patient and public satisfaction rating for the NHS overall was 63 per cent in winter 2005, however there were major differences between the public’s ratings which are more negative and patient’s ratings which are much more positive.

A survey by Populous also found that on average patients rate some aspects of NHS care, for example cleanliness, waiting times and nursing care 12 per cent higher than the public.

The report, Lost in translation, suggests that a clue to this gap in perceptions may lie in the fact that patients and the public agree about GP service, with a satisfaction rate of around 80 per cent. As GP services are used on average 4 to 5 times each year by everyone in the UK, the public are responding on the basis of their personal experience and not purely opinions from elsewhere.

In other areas the public form opinions by giving weight to information from a variety of sources and may be influenced by wider personal factors. The most important influence on public satisfaction with the NHS is political beliefs, followed by age, poor experiences of A&E, NHS staff deriding the service and media coverage.

Nigel Edwards, director of policy at the NHS Confederation which represents more than 90 per cent of NHS organisations, said:

“The public has become distrustful when confronted with evidence of improvement in the NHS. It would seem that disenchantment with the Government translates into scepticism about the service."

He also says that the views of NHS staff have a large part to play in the patient/public perceptions gap, adding that "negative opinions from some NHS staff are a key driver of the overall poor image of the service.?

The NHS and the Government 'have a big mountain to climb in order to restore public and staff confidence in the NHS' he says.  He concludes that “It is only through the NHS and Government working together to change the focus of the service back to the experience of the patient and the outcomes of their care that the perceptions gap will begin to close and the current poor image of the NHS will start to improve.?

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Article Information

Title: Lost in translation
Author: Sue Knights
Article Id: 796
Date Added: 19th Sep 2006

Sources

NHS Confederation

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