Case study: Tameside General Hospital

Tameside General Hospital is working with Patient Opinion to ask patients what they think about services. We asked Director of Nursing, Philip Dylak how they were getting on.

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What is your role at the trust?

Director of Nursing. This covers a range of responsibilities, including complaints and user involvement.

How are you using Patient Opinion?

Patient Opinion is completely independent of the hospital so it’s a valuable source of feedback. We check the postings each day and try to respond as quickly as possible, as we think this is what people are looking for when they use the service.

We try not to have to refer people on to other services, because if they wanted to use the complaints service, or PALS, they would have accessed that in the first place. Even though most of the postings are anonymous, they still provide valuable information about services which we can act on. Sometimes we invite people to make contact with us so we can take their issue forward.

It is also wonderful to receive positive comments about our hospital and its staff and services – and we get a great many of these. It is always a pleasure to pass these comments on to the staff concerned, as they are greatly appreciated, and I never fail to do this.

We provide reports to all parts of the hospital showing trends in the types of communication received and the ratings we have been given, and also download information about how other trusts are being assessed by the people who use their services. The Chief Executive sees every posting and every response via a weekly report we have developed.

What is involved in doing this? How much work is it?

The postings come directly to my desktop via email so using Patient Opinion can easily be integrated into the daily work pattern. It’s just a question of deciding that you are going to work with it in this way. My PA does quite a lot of the work too, such as downloading the information about other trusts’ ratings and putting them into a report. The work associated with using Patient Opinion is not onerous.

Have you involved other staff in the trust?

Yes – in that they may be involved in providing information for replies to postings. Sometimes it is more appropriate for another member of staff to post the reply, but I think people using the service expect their posting to be seen and responded to by someone sufficiently senior. Obviously the staff who are cited in the postings get a copy, and if we implement a plan in response to a posting this is another means of being involved.

Has there been any impact for staff?

Those who have had positive comments have definitely reacted well. Where improvements are needed, I think staff would rather know so we can do something about it.

Has there been any impact for patients?

Yes, I think because each posting is acted on, whether its content is positive, negative, neutral or mixed, it has an impact.

Have you had any really critical feedback? If so, how have you handled it?

There has been some. If the issues raised are very serious then we may invite the person to make contact with us.

What have you learnt from using Patient Opinion?

That feedback from people who use our services is valued by those who provide them.