PATIENTS are being urged to use the internet to express their views on healthcare after a dedicated site billed as ‘Tripadvisor for the NHS’ was awarded £160,000 to expand.
The Patient Opinion site – which allows individuals to share their healthcare experiences, good or bad, in real time – will receive the cash from the Scottish Government.
The funding boost comes after the independent, not-for-profit site – which health bosses will be able to use to reform services – was given the same amount in the 2013-14 session for a phased roll-out.
Patient representatives in the Lothians said any opportunity to provide feedback was welcome, but questioned whether the new site could make a genuine difference given the absence of detail on what action is taken in response to complaints.
Margaret Watt, chair of the Scotland Patients Association, said: “I think feedback that we can get on any part of the NHS is good. But what are the facts? What are the figures? We don’t know if it’s worthwhile until they give us that breakdown. I’m making around 700 calls a month to the NHS on behalf of patients, and we only get a smidgeon of the total number of cases – the really bad ones.
“What are they actually hearing about? Are they taking any action?”
But NHS Lothian chiefs said the site was having a significant impact on healthcare.
Stuart Wilson, director of communications and public affairs, said: “We have already received a significant number of messages through Patient Opinion and I’m glad to say that the majority of this feedback has reflected positively on our staff and services.
“Patient Opinion is one source of information we use for feedback and the information it provides us is useful in allowing us to shape our services, make improvements as well as let frontline staff know that their work is being praised.”
Health Secretary Alex Neil said: “It is important to continue to hear patients’ stories, whether good or bad, and this valuable online feedback helps us learn and improve to make our health services better.
“Many of these stories can be inspirational and where our health professionals are doing a great job we want them to know about it.”
Gina Alexander, director of Patient Opinion, said: “It is good to know the Scottish Government see the difference widespread use of an independent and transparent platform, like Patient Opinion, can make across health services.
“What is really important though, is that patients and the public are really encouraged to share their experiences, good or bad, because they believe it will make a difference on the front line.”
The view from the wards, from hopeless and depressed to five-star hotel service
FROM the son of a 69-year-old patient who suffered a stroke ten months after being told he would be referred to the Western General: “There seems to be at best confusion and at worst incompetence from either the GP, the hospital or both. I have looked at other issues on this website and the standard response seems to be email us details. I’d really appreciate someone taking responsibility and supporting me here.”
From a patient treated in the ERI’s trauma and orthopaedics department: “The staff were all very good, cheerful and tolerant of my apparent inability to remember instructions such as how to sit in a chair properly.”
From a 24-year-old urology patient seeking treatment for erectile dysfunction at the Western General: “I’ve been left feeling hopeless and depressed by the whole ordeal and shocked that someone as young as me (I’m 24) with this condition has not be seen as dealt with swifter and more compassionately.”
From a patient admitted to the Western General with severe cellulitis and an ulcer: “I was treated with the utmost respect and care. I was given physio each day to help get my fitness levels up. My point is I can’t thank them enough.”
From a Western General patient treated for anaphylactic shock after suffering a bee sting to the eyelid: “From the receptionist who immediately whisked me through for treatment, to the reassuring medical staff, and the nursing assistants who later brought tea and biscuits, everyone played their part in my recovery. I’ve had less impressive service in five-star hotels.”