"Why does it sometimes take a week to publish my postings?"

About: Patient Opinion

(as the patient),

Dear All,

Just a quick query - I have noticed over the past few months that if my story involves serious risk to myself or a friend it often takes almost a week to publish it.

I was advised that the story is passed to the trust concerned to 'review' it before it is published. Surely the stories should be published as is without giving an NHS trust the chance to get their story straight before responding.

Just a little point - but important I feel.



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Response from James Munro, Chief executive, Patient Opinion

picture of James Munro

Dear Cameron

Thanks for raising this question with us.

You are right that sometimes we will delay publishing a story on Patient Opinion. There are a few different reasons why we sometimes do this:

1: If we believe that an author is in a very distressed or vulnerable state at the time they post, we sometimes delay publication because (a) we might direct the author to help/support first, (b) the author might regret their posting when they feel calmer, or (c) we might be concerned that when someone feels suicidal, publication would increase the risk they would act on their suicidal thoughts.

2: Sometimes we delay a few days just to clarify facts, like which service the story is about.

3: Where a story is very critical of a service, we might delay a few days while we contact the service to make sure they are aware of the story and are in a position to post a response.

I am guessing that is it the third reason which might concern you. Some people might feel that this means we are "taking sides".

We don't see it like that. Our aim is to encourage helpful and constructive stories and responses. To us, that means making sure that service users, and also staff, feel safe using Patient Opinion. Service users, carers and staff can all feel anxious posting their thoughts online and in public. If we can help people feel safer doing this, by making sure they are aware of a story a day or two before publication, that's a good thing. We think it will help more NHS organisations get involved. (Remember, many still don't respond at all.)

Please be assured though that we publish stories only according to our own moderation policy. NHS staff or trusts do not have a say in what we publish.

I hope that helps - but do respond if you feel I am missing the point.

With best wishes


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Update posted by Cameron (the patient)

Dear James,

I must admit that I am not alone in thinking that Patient Opinion is biased towards the protection of the NHS from litigation.

My posts have been honest and sincere, they didn't take me two weeks to formulate.

Best Wishes


Response from James Munro, Chief executive, Patient Opinion

picture of James Munro

Dear Cameron

You are entitled to your view that Patient Opinion is biased towards "protecting the NHS". I can assure you that there are also many who believe that Patient Opinion is equally biased *against* the NHS.

Given that we will not please everyone, we take care to approach the task of public online feedback in accordance with our own deeply held values.

For myself, I strongly support both the principles and the existence of the NHS, but I feel that it sometimes fails in practice to live up to its own values. There are many reasons why that might be so, but some of them relate to a culture in which the views and feelings of service users, patients and carers are often ignored. We created Patient Opinion to help remedy that.

In the light of my previous response to you, if you feel our approach to publishing stories is biased, please feel free to suggest how we should change it, to better meet our aim of open and constructive conversation between users and staff.

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