Responding to postings on Patient Opinion

Advice for Healthwatch, Third Sector, Charities, Public Interest Groups, Elected Oficials and other stakeholders


Meaningful conversations

Patient Opinion is about honest and meaningful conversations between patients and health and care services. We believe that stories can help make health services better.

One of the main benefits of sharing stories online is that many people, in many organisations, can take the stories and learn from them. This in the first instance is often the organisation that runs the services being mentioned. They are perfectly placed to make changes as a direct result of feedback and can respond to the patient to show this.

A wide range of other organisations, such as Healthwatches and charities also use Patient Opinion stories in the work they do. Sometimes these organisations will have something to contribute to stories on the website, be it to give advice, offer some clarity to the story author, or explain how their own organisation is learning from or acting on the feedback.


Meaningful responding

We believe that the story author should always be at the centre of any response on the website. Before posting, ask yourself:

  • Does your response add to the current conversation?  Be wary of appearing to take sides in a discussion.
  • Do you offer the author some information or guidance that will directly help their current situation?
  • Are you representing your organisation’s values and responsibilities (rather than your personal views)?
  • If you are learning from or using the author’s story in some way, can you let the author know that?


Responding to individuals

Patient Opinion is a way for you to reach out to individuals and you should treat each conversation as a personal interaction. Remember you are speaking directly to someone.

We recommend that:

  • You avoid posting the same or closely similar responses to many stories
  • You link to online information, rather than pasting the same information in each response


Timeliness

Think about the timeliness and appropriateness of your response. We would recommend allowing time for the providers to respond and resolve situations with the author. Most site users are expecting a response from the provider and may be confused by a response that cuts across this conversation.


Neutrality

We would recommend you avoid appearing to criticise services provided by other organisations, on the basis of a single story.

If you want to highlight wider concerns around a specific service, you should aim to substantiate these by reference to other evidence in the public domain.

Patient Opinion runs for the benefit of both patients and staff and we want stories to drive service improvements and good practice.