A majority of the public believe some hospitals have a “tolerance of poor standards”, according to respondents to a national survey shared exclusively with HSJ.  

Polling firm Ipsos Mori said its survey on public attitudes towards the NHS following publication of the Francis public inquiry report revealed a public perception of a “listening deficit” in the NHS.

Jonathan Nicholls, head of health research at Ipsos Mori, said the findings were “a concern for the NHS”.

He said: “Despite overall satisfaction levels holding up well, still 40 per cent believe the NHS should be better at listening to patients and 36 per cent say it should be better at listening to staff.

“A common perception appears to be that the NHS is not great at listening to - and, by implication, dealing with - concerns.”

Seventy-eight per cent of respondents to the survey believed the “tolerance of poor standards” seen in the case of the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust scandal was likely to be replicated in other NHS hospitals.

Ipsos Mori surveyed a representative sample of 1,009 UK adults.

Fifty-per said “some NHS hospitals have problems like [Mid Staffs’ tolerance of poor standards]”, 23 per cent said some had such problems, and 5 per cent said “all” NHS hospitals did.

See full survey results in file attached.

Mr Nicholls addresses the findings in an exclusive comment piece for HSJ.co.uk today. In the same piece, he addresses how the controversial friends and family test feedback tool, which was introduced at all acute trusts this month despite significant criticism in the service, can be best used to improve services.

Mr Nicholls acknowledged some of the criticism of the test by leading survey experts was valid but stressed the patient satisfaction survey could “be invaluable for delivering patient-led service improvement”.

He said: “If implemented well, the FFT - with the right follow up questions - provides an opportunity [to address the public perception of a listening deficit in the NHS.

“The FFT guidance tries to encourage trusts to look beyond asking just the single FFT question. At a minimum, they should also ask patients why they gave their rating - a rich source of insight into how patients view their services.”

HSJ has previously highlighted criticism of the friends and family test and the emphasis put on it by government, including in an HSJ Briefing last year. It has been described as “not fit for purpose”.

Rachel Reeves, principal research fellow at Greenwich University’s school of health and social care, told HSJ the test would not work and ministers were failing “to address the real problem: that NHS staff need time, training and management support to listen actively to patient feedback and respond to it in a productive way”.

The test is also requires additional administration work from staff at a time when ministers have pledged to cut nurses’ paperwork, Dr Reeves said.

The full survey results are attached.

Ipsos Mori offers trusts the service of implementing the friends and family test feedback system.