What do patients really think?

From The Conversation.

Gavin Brookes and Paul Baker were “tasked” with looking at patients’ opinions. An analysis of a total of 228,000 comments from the NHS Choices website, coming in at a huge 29m words. Their results have been published in the BMJ and as a book.

They spent three years on the project and Prof Baker said, “it’s taught me more about what it means to be human than any other project I’ve been involved with. It also reveals how some staff, such as surgeons, are almost universally praised, while others, particularly receptionists, unfairly take the flak when the system breaks down.

Some conclusions:

“…complaints about the technical ability of staff to make us well are less common, suggesting that the NHS is mostly doing a good job, but is overstretched and struggling to meet demand.”

“…patients like predictability – they have a set of expectations and are generally happy if they’re met.”

“…“attitude” tends to be at the heart of the majority of complaints about the NHS,…”

Dentists.

“…some staff members do especially well, with surgeons, dentists and paramedics being evaluated positively 95% of the time.’

“Dentists, who came second in our comparison, also attracted strong praise, consistently being called “great”. The broader language used to describe dentists was also revealing, though. Many patients wrote about having a dentist phobia but then being pleasantly surprised when the actual visit was painless. The good feedback dentists received, then, was often related to a sense of relief.”

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