A guide to patient feedback about medical consultants and how you can use this information to inform discussions with them.

What is patient feedback?
What can patient surveys tell you about a consultant?
How is this information collected?
How else is patient feedback used?

What is patient feedback?

Patient feedback gives a view of how patients felt about their treatment by a consultant. There are two different areas where of patient experience which they are asked to give feedback about: 

  • Satisfaction –The results of the satisfaction survey show how likely patients are to recommend the consultant to their friends and family.
  • Experience –This shows whether patients felt that their needs were met by the consultant. This includes whether they felt things were explained clearly, whether they had enough time with their consultant, and whether the consultant showed them understanding when assessing their care needs.

For both 'satisfaction' and 'experience' you can see the percent of people that gave a positive response. By clicking 'more details' you can see the questions people were asked, and a visual breakdown of how they responded. 

What can patient surveys tell you about a consultant?

Using patient feedback cannot tell you about safety and quality on its own. While patients that have a poor medical outcome may be more likely to provide negative feedback, the survey doesn’t directly reflect medical competence.

Instead, it gives an indication of how patients felt they were treated and looked after during their stay when they responded to the questionnaire. This can give you an indication of the experience you may expect.

The first thing you may wish to check is whether the consultant has any patient feedback at all. While the consultant has no direct input into this process, a lack of feedback may prompt you to ask the consultant about the culture of the hospital where they operate.

A high patient feedback score shows most patients had a positive experience, while lower scores or a lack of data may prompt you to ask questions of your consultant.

How is this information collected?

It is good medical practice for providers to give all inpatients receiving private hospital-based care the opportunity to complete feedback questionnaires on the care provided by their consultant. The survey is usually administered by the hospital, not by the consultant, which may allow patients to feel more comfortable being open and honest during the feedback process.

All responses are sent to PHIN, which we use to calculate the percentage of patients who responded positively to the feedback survey questions.

While this cannot provide as much detail as a written review, it does provide a good overview of the experience of a range of patients.

How else is patient feedback used?

The General Medical Council (GMC) instructs its members to reflect on colleague feedback and patient feedback at least once each revalidation cycle. Every licensed doctor who practices medicine must go through this revalidation process. It supports their practice development and drives quality improvements in clinical governance. It also gives patients confidence that they are up to date in their professional development and patient care.

NHS England operates the NHS Friends and Family Test (FFT) which was created to help service providers and commissioners understand whether patients are happy with the service provided, or where improvements are needed. It's a quick and anonymous way to give your views after receiving NHS care or treatment.

  • Check whether your consultant has patient feedback information in their profile. If they don’t it may lead you to question the culture of the hospitals where they practice.
  • Understand your consultant’s patient feedback. If they have lower scores than other consultants, you should question why and seek reassurance that your questions and concerns will be listened to.
  • Ask questions. Patient feedback alone cannot tell you the full story, so this information is best used to inform a conversation with your consultant.

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