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After an outpouring of goodwill towards the NHS at the start of the pandemic, there is now evidence that patient satisfaction has dropped sharply.

Analysis by PEP Health, shared exclusively with HSJ, has found that patient positivity about NHS hospital services declined significantly during the autumn, and satisfaction with access is now well below pre-pandemic levels.

The drop in positive feeling towards NHS hospitals took place between October and January when hospitals were getting busier with emergency attendees and efforts to get planned care to pre-pandemic levels.

Patients especially had concerns about fast access to services, the analysis showed.

The findings by PEP Health, which evaluated patients’ social media comments about the care they received, chimed with the experience of one hospital chief executive, who told HSJ: “The ‘we love the NHS’ feels a very long lost memory.”

But there was some good news – the drop in patient satisfaction appears to have stabilised in early January, and more people felt positive about the emotional support they have been getting.

Tributes to Cliff

NHS leaders and former colleagues have been paying emotional tributes over the last few days to Clifford Mann, national clinical adviser for accident and emergency care, who passed away on Saturday.

The most senior figures in the health service were among those who praised Dr Mann’s “exceptional” clinical leadership, integrity and charm.

Dr Mann, who had cancer, died peacefully at home, with his wife Rhona and two daughters by his side. He had been looked after in his last few days by nurses from his own department at Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton.

Among the many tributes – the number and warmth of which would have come as no surprise to anyone who had had the fortune of knowing or dealing with Dr Mann – were statements from NHS England/Improvement chief executive Sir Simon Stevens and Katherine Henderson, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.  

Sir Simon said: “Cliff was an exceptional clinical leader, patient advocate, and source of wise advice, who stayed grounded in the pressurised realities of day-to-day emergency medicine while at the same time shaping and helping create a better future. His untimely death will be a huge blow to many people across the health service, and we will all miss him greatly.”

Dr Henderson said: “His passing is a huge loss to the NHS. Our thoughts are with his family and Taunton colleagues. His charm, integrity and way with a simile will be remembered forever.”

You can read more in our tribute piece to Dr Mann here.