Make it easier for users to feed back

By Agnes Rose

Independent practitioners wanting feedback from patients may need to give them more encouragement.

Private doctors are increasingly publishing patients’ views about their care on their websites and communications with customers – but it seems people are more likely to say what they think about commercial services and products than their health experiences.

More than half of people taking part in a survey (54%) said they found it easier to provide feedback about their experiences of commercial products and services such as hotels or meals, compared to providing feedback about health and social care. 

Although over two-thirds (72%) of people said they felt health and social care services were a priority for them, only one in five said they had given feedback in the last two years.

When asked why they had not fed back about their experiences of care:

  • 26% said they thought their feedback would not be listened to;
  • 22% said they worried it would have a negative impact on their care: 
  • 21% said they did not want to cause a problem for the people caring for them.

Emotionally taxing

People told the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and health and care champion Healthwatch England (HWE) that sharing feedback about commercial products and services was less emotionally taxing (18%) and less personal (26%) than sharing about health experiences. 

They felt feeding back commercially was often quicker and they had more available options to do so. 

The research also found that many opted to confide in their family (15%) or a friend (14%) about a negative healthcare experience, but only 10% told the service directly.

The research came as part of a new Share for Better Care campaign launched by the CQC and HWE.

They are working in collaboration with a variety of organisations including the Patients Association, Race Equality Foundation, National Dignity Council, Royal Association for Deaf people, National Voices, Challenging Behaviour Found­ation, VoiceAbility and Disability Rights UK. 

Although the campaign did not specifically ask about private patients’ experiences among the 2,000 people who took part, its backers say they aim to encourage everyone to give feedback on their experiences of care.


Why health watchdog and charities say feedback is important

Patients Association chief executive Rachel Power said: ‘We’d encourage patients and carers to share experiences of their care with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), whether those experiences have been good, middling or bad.’

She added: ‘Sharing poor experiences can provide essential warnings about a service where things might be going wrong, which would enable the CQC to take action. Good experiences offer insights into what a good service does.’

Jabeer Butt, chief executive of The Race Equality Foundation, said: ‘The research suggests that there are a number of reasons why people do not give feedback, but we would argue that at the core of all these reasons is trust.

‘If people trusted that they would be listened to, then they would feed back; similarly, if they trusted that they would not be disadvantaged, they would feed back.

‘We know trust is something that can be developed through clear communication, being transparent in the decision-making process and putting people at the centre of how we organise and deliver support.

‘Our experience in working with people from Black, Asian and minoritised ethnic backgrounds is that trust is often the key to improving experiences of services. Hopefully, by developing trusting relationships, we will also do better in securing feedback from all.’

Jan Burns, chief executive of the National Dignity Council, said: ‘Feedback serves as a direct measure of the quality of care provided, offering insights into areas where improvements may be needed to ensure that all individuals receive care that respects their inherent dignity and fulfils their fundamental human right to being afforded kindness, respect and compassion.’

The CQC said in its most recent State of Care report that a combination of enduring difficulties linked to workforce retention and recruitment, poor capacity in services was restricting access and a challenging financial environment was risking unfair care developing into a ‘two-tier’ healthcare system. 

This was forcing people into long waits for care unless they could pay for treatment sooner. The report also warned that this combination of challenges will further exacerbate existing heath inequalities and make people wait longer for care while their health deteriorates.

The research was conducted by One Poll in February 2024. It was a ‘representative national sample of 2,000 adults aged 18+ in England’.

Share for Better Care runs until March 2025 and will have phases of activity over the next 12 months focusing on different audiences to increase awareness of the importance of feeding back about care experiences. 

People are invited to share their care experiences at www.cqc.org.uk/give-feedback-on-care.

Deaf or hard of hearing and text relay: www.cqc.org.uk/contact-us/general-enquiries/get-help-contacting-us-if-youre-deaf-or-hard-hearing

 Phone: 03000 616161. Interpreter services available.