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First national patient experience results published

The Health Quality & Safety Commission today released results from the first national survey of hospital inpatients.

A sample of hospital inpatients from all over the country were asked to rate their experience in the four key areas of: communication, involvement in their care, coordination of their care, and having their physical and emotional needs met during their last stay in hospital.

The average rating for each of the four key areas was over 8 out of 10. District health boards (DHBs) undertook the survey between 26 August and 19 September 2014, with over 1500 responses, about a quarter of patients contacted.

Commission Director Health Quality Evaluation, Richard Hamblin, says the initial response is encouraging. ‘A quarter of patients responding is a good start but we’d like to get that higher and we’ll work with DHBs to help increase the response rate in future.’

He says it is important not to over-interpret the results as this is the first time the survey has been undertaken and the response rate is expected to increase in the future.

‘This particularly applies to trying to rank DHBs from these data, which would be invalid. DHB scores are remarkably consistent, which can make over-simple comparisons misleading. This is the first time this survey has been carried out and response rates vary between DHBs. In some cases, responses are too low to make valid comparisons between DHBs.’ Patients also answered 20 detailed questions, including whether they understood the advice they were given by their doctor, whether they were involved in decisions about their care and treatment, and whether they were treated with respect and dignity by hospital staff.

Mr Hamblin says publishing these results is important for two reasons. ‘Firstly, transparency matters. Making results available increases trust between health services and the public, including those members of the public who took the time to respond to the survey. However, there is also increasing evidence that publication of results can help stimulate the improvement of health services.’ He says DHBs can use the survey, and in particular the more detailed responses received, to quickly identify and begin to address any issues with hospital care.

‘Patients attend New Zealand public hospitals nearly 3 million times each year, and health care is generally of a high standard. However, where people have had negative experiences, it is important we learn from them.

‘The results will help DHBs to make improvements in care and give the public valuable insights into the performance of their local health services.’ Some DHBs are now surveying their patients weekly or fortnightly.

The next national survey will take place from the week of 24 November 2014, for three weeks.

Today’s release of results comes during Patient Safety Week, 3 to 9 November, a nationwide focus on the commitment of the country’s health professionals to provide the best and safest care possible.

The results are available on the Commission’s website: www.hqsc.govt.nz

For more information, contact Commission Communications Coordinator Guy Somerset, (04) 913 1745, 021 813 591, guy.somerset@hqsc.govt.nz.

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