Moderation principles

We have four aims which guide our moderation on Patient Opinion.

These principles guide the decisions made by Patient Opinion editors. There are guidelines that come from these principles, which help our moderators to decide if and how they should edit a story.

Enable a clear, timely, public, constructive conversation about care

To ensure the conversation is constructive, we will:

  • Reject postings which are primarily commercial, obscene or irrelevant.
  • Reject postings relating to events which ended over three years ago.
  • Remove obscene or offensive language, including racist, sexist, homophobic or other discriminatory material.
  • We may limit the length of stories, by heavily editing extremely long postings.

To ensure the conversation is clear, we will:

  • Consider changes to the story title to make it more helpful to other users.
  • Replace upper case (CAPITALS) text with mixed case.
  • Make minor changes to spelling, punctuation or layout to improve readability.

Make giving feedback safe and easy for patients, service users and carers

To avoid identifying individuals, we will:

  • Remove users' names from postings, even from positive postings.
  • Remove details which might identify an individual, particularly where we suspect there are small numbers of staff or patients in any given service.
  • Remove mention of specific dates and times.
  • Where there are postings that are part of a current, formal complaints procedure we will consider the impact of publishing them on the site. We will not publish postings if we become aware it could potentially prejudice any ongoing proceedings, whether they are complaints, claims, police coroner, or any other proceedings or investigation.
  • If we are concerned that the author of a posting may be vulnerable, we will take appropriate action to protect that person. This may include signposting the person to an appropriate agency for support, not publishing the postings or, in the most serious cases, we may contact the appropriate authority.

Encourage authentic feedback, based in personal experience

To avoid generalisation and speculation in postings, we will:

  • Make sure that postings directly report the experiences, reactions or suggestions of users and carers.
  • Generally remove suggestions that indicate others should not visit a service, e.g. "Nobody should to go Sea View Care Home", as this is a generalisation based on one individual's experience.
  • Remove allegations or speculations about the character or motivations of care staff or organisations, since authors do not know what motivates particular staff. For example, we would remove speculative statements such as "The managers were obviously only motivated by money".
  • Edit to make clear that experiences relate to some staff, not all staff. For example, we would change "all the staff in my mother's care home were rude" to "the staff I met in my mother's care home were rude".
  • Sometimes remove references to the care of other service users. For example, "They gave the lady across the way the wrong tablets". This is because the story should primarily relate to the direct experience of care by the user themselves.
  • Sometimes edit direct speech, quoting third parties, to indirect speech. For example, "the nurse said 'you're a nightmare patient and we don't want to look after you'" to, "the nurse said that I was a nightmare patient and they didn't want to look after me".

Treat staff legally and fairly

To avoid defaming individual staff members, we will:

  • Remove all staff names from critical comments.
  • Generally remove the name or identifying information about a third party. For example, "The cleaner Tracy said it was a disgrace and they had been told to keep costs to a minimum". We will remove Tracy's name.
  • Remove identifying information where we suspect there are small numbers of staff in any one treatment area, and it may be possible to identify individual staff members.