Notes from the field of public involvement

Monday, 25 April 2005

One million patients assess NHS

Picker Europe’s meta-analysis of patient surveys from 1998-2004 concludes that many patients perceive the NHS is getting better, but not everywhere. Primary care and mental health in particular lag behind.

Getting a GP appointment was a problem for 23% of patients interviewed (4% worse than 1998). And time spent with the GP is going down – 87% said they had sufficient time with the doctor in 1998; only 74% agreed in 2004.

The most worrying aspect is that involvement in decisions and respect for patients’ preferences – the core of a patient-led service – are far from universal. Involvement is good in cancer care, but as expectations rise this is slipping. In stark contrast, over half of mental health patients said they were not give a copy of their care plan and were given no phone number to contact for out of hours help.

The politicians should be listening because the bottom line messages are clear:

On this assessment, the journey to patient centred care in the NHS is likely to be a long march.

What do our readers think? Is Picker’s analysis right or wrong from your perspective? Let us hear from you.

Is the NHS getting better or worse? www.pickereurope.org/publications/NHS_Report.pdf

Andrew Craig | Send feedback