Hospital Dr News

Patients say outpatient care is improving

Outpatient care is improving a survey reveals but questions persist over clinic management.

The national survey of patients’ experiences during their most recent visit to an outpatient department reveals that, since 2009, more people were seen on time for their appointment and felt that their doctor listened to them.

Overall 89% of outpatients felt they were treated with respect and dignity – a 2% increase on 2009.

Forty four per cent of outpatients rated the care that they received at the outpatient department as ‘excellent’. This figure has risen from 40% in 2009.

The survey, by the Care Quality Commission, included questions on waiting times, hospital facilities, seeing a doctor or other members of staff, tests and treatments and prescribed medications.

Most outpatients waited less than three months for their first appointment (93%).

And when they attended more patients felt involved in decisions about their care and treatment, and reported that doctors gave reasons for any treatment or action.

In 2011, 84% felt that the doctor knew enough about their medical history, an increase from 82% in 2009.

There has been an increase in the proportion of outpatients feeling that the doctor that they saw during their appointment ‘completely’ explained the reasons for action or treatment in a way that they could understand, from 77% in 2009 to 78% in 2011. However, there has been a corresponding decline in the proportion feeling that the doctor explained to ‘some extent’ (21% in 2009 to 19% in 2011). In addition, 2% of respondents in both years reported that the doctor did not listen to what they had to say.

Respondents were asked if they received answers that they could understand when they had important questions to ask the doctor. Seventy-three per cent felt that they ‘definitely’ did – an increase from 71% in 2009. The proportion who said ‘no’ that they did not have confidence and trust in the doctor has increased since 2009 from 2% to 3%.

Considerable improvement was also shown in the proportion of respondents receiving copies of letters sent between the hospital and their family doctor.

However, more respondents reported that their appointment was changed to a later date by the hospital, and fewer patients waiting longer than 15 minutes were told how long they would have to wait.

The results will be used by trusts to improve their performance and to understand their patients’ experiences, and by CQC for regulatory, compliance and monitoring activities.

Since 2009, a higher proportion of repeat attendees at outpatients departments responded to the survey. Additionally, fewer people who had attended outpatients departments for the first time responded to the survey. This may have influenced the overall results of the survey and may explain some of the changes shown.

The authors said: “Generally, there have been some improvements since the 2009 survey, such as being seen on time or early for an appointment, in the cleanliness of the outpatient department and toilets, the ratings of overall care received at the outpatient department, and in being treated with respect and dignity.”

Read more on the findings.

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One Response to “Patients say outpatient care is improving”

  1. Malcolm Morrison says:

    Are these changes of 1-3% really significant? As they are supposed to be ‘measures’ of quality, I doubt that they count as ‘increased productivity’ – though I would have thought they represent increased ‘efficiency’!

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