Find out what people’s experiences were like giving feedback to the NHS in our Patients in the Picture report.


Two years ago, Anne Clywd MP and Prof. Patricia Hart, published a report called ‘Putting Patients Back in the Picture’.  It said that NHS feedback and complaints systems needed improvement.

One of the problems highlighted in the report was that some people were afraid to complain.  They feared that their care might get worse as a result.  Others were not convinced that anyone would listen.

We wanted to know whether, two years down the line, the Clywd-Hart report had made any difference.

What we did

We wanted to find out how well people felt their feedback was handled and to test awareness of platforms to gather feedback such the Friends and Family test, Patient Opinion and NHS Choices.

We carried out a simple survey asking a few short questions about people’s experiences of NHS feedback and complaints system.

At the same time, we also engaged directly with local NHS Provider Trusts.

Our findings

Over 200 people responded to our survey.

  • 15% of respondents did not find the complaints process easy. Common reasons included:
    • Complaint wasn’t answered
    • Had to keep repeating the story
    • Not feeling listened too

When asked how things could be improved, common themes were:

  • Demonstrate that feedback is acted on
  • Listen and respond in a timely manner
  • Keep people informed as to where there feedback has gone
  • Be open and honest
Patients in the Picture Cover Image_Page_01

Read our ‘Patients in the Picture’ report.

Follow up

We have made a number of recommendations to providers and commissioners. And the report has been well received.

Read our ‘Patients in the Picture’ report.

Responses to the report are included at the end of the report.

We are encouraged to see that Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust plan to introduce a specific mystery shopper exercise to assess staff readiness to receiving feedback and responding appropriately.  Their findings will be shared with the Patient Experience Committee and shared across Devon and Cornwall.

We are pleased to learn that Northern Devon Healthcare Trust are currently viewing their process for seeking views around complaint handling and will incorporate our recommendations into that review.  They will also embed our recommendations into their future strategies and plans relating to patient experience and volunteering.

We have also raised concerns about complaints legislation and the need for formal accredited training for NHS complaint handlers to Healthwatch England.

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