The Department of Health will not impose standards for “real time” measurement of patients’ experience, despite pressure to use results to help identify failing trusts.
Guidance will be published on the use of fast-turnaround feedback, which many hospital trusts are beginning to collect, in coming weeks.
But there will be no standard collection methods, questions or measures, meaning the results cannot be used for national benchmarking, performance management or patient choice.
Guidance published last week on how the DH will identify underperforming trusts said user experience data “will only be used as a moderator… until more frequent data is available”.
DH patient experience director Richard Gleave, speaking at HSJ’s measuring patient experience conference last week, said organisations needed more time to try different approaches before standards were adopted.
“There is a stage where we need to have consolidation. But I’m not sure we are quite at that stage where there has been enough innovation at a local level.”
Health secretary Alan Johnson announced in September trusts should collect “immediate” feedback and some have adopted systems from various suppliers, including the Picker Institute.
Picker policy director Don Redding said: “The key challenge if it is going to be left for local selection for the time being is to help providers and commissioners understand the different choices.”
NHS North West wants trusts to collect some standard data as part of its payment-linked quality programme, Advancing Quality, from next year.
However, director of service experience Mandy Wearne said there were good reasons not to rush into standardisation.
“Maybe we have to be realistic about whether there is going to be a [standard] set of measures. There are a great deal out there but we don’t know if they are the right ones.”