Patient Opinion website for rating NHS care endorsed

By Eleanor Bradford
BBC Scotland Health Correspondent

image captionPatients have already been outlining their experiences on the website

A website which allows patients to rate the care they have received on the NHS is being formally supported by the Scottish government.

Patient Opinion works in the same way as travel review websites, but contributors review the care at hospitals, surgeries and clinics.

It hopes that by allowing patients to post opinions, services can be opened up to scrutiny and standards driven up.

Funding has now been awarded for health boards to engage with the service.

Recent comments posted on the website range from a complaint from a patient who said she waited five months instead of six weeks for an important clinic appointment, to praise for the new Victoria Hospital in Glasgow from a patient who said they received "a 5 star experience".

The Scottish government said improvements had already been made as a result of comments made on Patient Opinion.

It is now encouraging health boards to engage with the website with £160,000 funding.

The money is being allocated to NHS Highland, NHS Shetland, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, the Scottish Ambulance Service, Health Improvement Scotland and National Education Scotland.

'Feel validated'

The Scottish Ambulance Service participated in an initial pilot with the website.

Comments posted on Patient Opinion about patient transport services were sent to ambulance chiefs, who were asked to respond.

In one case, a patient with a brain tumour said they felt dismissed by ambulance staff after becoming unwell whilst out and about.

The Scottish Ambulance Service contacted the patient and the user posted an update: "Since writing about my experience here I have had very helpful and reassuring conversations with the Scottish Ambulance Service.

"At a face-face meeting I was able to talk through what happened and ask some questions that I had. I felt comfortable and free to say what I needed to and I feel very validated and understood."

Scottish Health Secretary Alex Neil said: "We want to hear patients' stories first hand in their own words, whether it's good or bad, because it helps us to make our health services better.

"Now patients, carers and their families will be able to let health boards know, openly and publicly, how a service was for them and where it can improve. And if our health professionals are doing a great job we want them to know about it."

Dr Paul Hodgkin, chief executive of Patient Opinion, said: "Lots of people have already taken the opportunity to share their stories on Patient Opinion. We want to encourage even more people to get involved in making our health services even better by sharing their experiences and watching what happens as a result."

The union Unison has welcomed greater involvement with Patient Opinion to encourage greater dialogue between staff, health boards and patients.

RCN Scotland said all health boards must use the information gathered by Patient Opinion to respond to what patients were telling them, and share best practice to improve the service for everyone.

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