Notes from the field of public involvement

Monday, 04 September 2006

The Power of Positive Postings - the Patient Opinion response

Paul Hodgkin the founder and Chief Executive of Patient Opinion sent us these comments in response to our blog entry of 11th August. We are always pleased to hear back from readers and those with an interest in what we write and so re-print with Paul's permission what he wrote back to us.

Thank you for this thoughtful and reflective blog. And sorry to have taken a few days to get back to you.

In many respects your comments are spot on:

Interestingly from the start about 50% of our postings have been positive, 30% mixed and 20% critical and it does not seem to change much. We have a lot of gratitude, quite a lot of altruism (reflecting the social capital represented by the NHS) and some anger and grief. But to date almost no malice.

Quite a lot of postings do come from people who understand the NHS well. Partly this is just because 9% of the UK workforce works in the NHS and they have things - and perhaps a lower threshold - to post. But sometimes it seems pretty clear to us that staff are using the site as an informal way to raise issues or whistle blow.

You're also right that the most important loop is the one you inserted, the one that actually changes services for the better. This was one of the two major reasons for starting the site (the other being to create somewhere that patients can go to find out what interventions, diseases, therapies etc actually feel like from the sharp end). Until recently we had no direct evidence that this was happening but as more and more Trusts subscribe and begin to learn how to use PO feedback at the micro level responses are beginning to appear that show change happening - for example http://www.patientopinion.org.uk/index.cfm?fuseaction=opinion.view&oID=757 (the PCT confirmed to us that the posting played at least some part in reversing their previous decision to cut the service).

Finally the stress on the business model - I suppose this comes from seeing so many projects die because they had not thought enough about who would buy their services after the first year or two of funding. And my own direct experience of running a charity. And a pretty strong concern not to be dependent on a few big funders. And a belief that market signals are really important - if trusts wont buy PO services that says something really important and we should all go home and do other things.

No problem about posting. Thanks. All the best Paul

Our original post is here: The Patient Opinion Organisation

Colin Adamson | Send feedback