Why UK hospital staff find it difficult to make improvements based on patient feedback

Patients are increasingly being asked for feedback about their healthcare experiences. However, healthcare staff often find it difficult to act on this feedback in order to make improvements to services | Social Science and Medicine

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This paper draws upon notions of legitimacy and readiness to develop a conceptual framework (Patient Feedback Response Framework – PFRF) which outlines why staff may find it problematic to respond to patient feedback.

A large qualitative study was conducted with 17 ward based teams between 2013 and 2014, across three hospital Trusts in the North of England. This was a process evaluation of a wider study where ward staff were encouraged to make action plans based on patient feedback.

Through the development of the PFRF, we found that making changes based on patient feedback is a complex multi-tiered process and not something that ward staff can simply ‘do’.

  • First, staff must exhibit normative legitimacy – the belief that listening to patients is a worthwhile exercise.
  • Second, structural legitimacy has to be in place – ward teams need adequate autonomy, ownership and resource to enact change. Some ward teams are able to make improvements within their immediate control and environment.
  • Third, for those staff who require interdepartmental co-operation or high level assistance to achieve change, organisational readiness must exist at the level of the hospital otherwise improvement will rarely be enacted.

Case studies drawn from our empirical data demonstrate the above. It is only when appropriate levels of individual and organisational capacity to change exist, that patient feedback is likely to be acted upon to improve services.

Full reference: Sheard, L. et al. (2017) The Patient Feedback Response Framework – understanding why UK hospital staff find it difficult to make improvements based on patient feedback: A qualitative study. Social Science & Medicine. 178. pp. 19-27.

 

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