NHS trusts are aware of patients' views through satisfaction surveys and the complaints process. These have shown patient dissatisfaction in three core areas: communication and information, the manner and attitude of staff and the hospital environment.

Are boards doing enough to improve satisfaction? The Burdett Trust for Nursing publication The Business of Caring suggests that trust boards spend more time discussing finance, performance targets and output than they do on clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction.

The challenge is how boards can use what they learn from handling complaints to improve the patient experience. Specifically, how should boards change what they do to ensure the patient experience is central to their business strategy?

At Stockport foundation trust, we want to make Every Patient Matters more than just a motto. It represents a philosophy and a framework for ensuring patient care is the cornerstone of the organisation.

Implementing the philosophy requires visible, purposeful and strategically driven leadership from the board. The challenge facing all boards is how to manage patients' increasing expectations and improve overall healthcare services.

Implications for training

While healthcare practitioners are given training and support to deliver this agenda, this is not always the case for the the executive and non-executive community.

Boards need training on the patient experience to ensure best practice is not just observed and discussed but achieved. Ultimately, this will lead to improved patient outcomes.

Training will also give boards the confidence to examine questions such as:

  • How do boards make sense of the patient narrative?

  • How do we demonstrate that we understand and will learn from the information we receive from patients?

  • How do we use the findings from patient satisfaction surveys and complaints more imaginatively so they have a bigger impact on strategy?

  • Do we take an evidence-based approach to delivering patient care, and if so how do we know it makes a difference?

What do you think?

Are boards doing enough to improve patient satisfaction? Let us know by clicking on the "post your response" button below.