Thursday, 30 October 2008

Proms or Pets

Here we go again, the NHS has yet more acronyms to confuse us.

BBC NEWS Health Gauging true patient experience

This article from the BEEB, is concerning feed back from patients as they leave hospital.

PETS-patient experience trackers are computers at Homerton Hospital, London.

There are 36 devices dotted around the site. The questions vary from place to place. On the men's surgery ward they ask about staff friendliness and sensitivity, overall cleanliness and speed of response to the call-bell.

The Homerton started using these devices - patient experience trackers, or "PETS" - last year. Each month more than 1,200 people complete the questionnaire.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson says in the next year he wants a scheme like this in every hospital across the country - tracking the patient experience in real-time.

Jennie Negus, Homerton's deputy director of nursing, says the scheme has helped to drive up standards.

Ms Negus says: "There's going to be no foolproof system, but the numbers of patients that are using ours - the response rate we've had - is telling us that they value the system. They value the opportunity to give their feedback."

"It's made staff really critically analyse their behaviour and how they project themselves.

"And then on a real practical level - the question around responses to call-bells - this showed that there was an issue across the wards and we've developed a specific standard now that says call-bells must be answered within a minute."

Excuse me but why does it take “feed back” from patients to “improve” care, aren’t there any “managers” or sisters on the wards to ensure that care is provided as quickly as possible?

There has been an “issue” over call bells for years, but the management of the hospitals have sat on their arses and done nothing.

The nurses know how long they take to answer call bells, could they have not “taken the initiative” and changed their practice without “patient feed back”?

I have noticed this a lot in the NHS, nothing is done, until the obvious is pointed out to them, there is no initiative, there is no proactivity, every thing is reactive. No problem is sorted until they are told to sort it.

And then there is PROMS - patient reported outcome measures, due to be introduced from April next year.

People having hip and knee replacements, varicose veins and hernia operations will fill in questionnaires before and after treatment. Their improvements will be assessed and published.

What about the care of serious illnesses such as cancer, or emergency operations?

“BUPA has been doing this for a decade. The firm's assistant medical director, Dr Sneh Khemka, says the firm has been urging the NHS to follow its lead.

"When patients choose which hospital to go to for their treatment they want to know how much their health is going to improve. And these PROMS have been a key factor in enabling that choice."

The growth in information is being powered by the Internet. The website allows people to rate their doctors.

Yes and we all know how useful that site is don’t we?

Founder Dr Neil Bacon says patients, as experienced consumers, are happy to sift through data before making their choice.

"We've got to remember we're talking about people who've grown up now making decisions and reading reviews from other users, reading ratings when they buy a washing machine, booking a holiday. And yet we ask them to take their child to hospital or put their life in the hands of someone without seeing the comments from other people."

The point is that people take their children to hospital because they are under the impression that the treatment given will be professional and caring.

There shouldn’t be a need to read ratings of doctors, we should be able to assume they are competent, because they should be trained to the highest standards and the management is ensuring that the standards are maintained.

And what are we supposed to do if we check the ratings and find that the doctor treating a loved one is either not rated, or has a poor rating, drag them out of bed and try to find a better doctor?

If the doctor has a poor rating they should not be working in the first bloody place.

The “iwantgreatcaresite” is useless, it is inane, self-satisfied and up it’s own arse.

The best way to “rate” a hospital is for the patients to use their right to choose, and boycott the “bad” hospitals.

There, something on a more serious subject.

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