Stoke Mandeville Hospital’s accident and emergency department has fared poorly in the first NHS Friends and Family Survey which asks patients directly whether they would recommend the ward where they received care.
The nationwide test is based on patient feedback and asks people: “How likely are you to recommend our ward/A&E department to your friends and family if they needed similar care or treatment?”
In June 10.6% (419 people) of eligible patients responded to the survey on Stoke Mandeville Hospital’s A&E department – the only A&E in Bucks.
While 222 (52.9%) people said they would be ‘extremely likely’ or ‘likely’ to recommend the A&E, 96 (22.9%) people said they would not. The rest responded ‘neither’ or ‘do not know’.
The government collated the survey results into scores using a complex mathematical formula. They gave the trust’s A&E service a score of four, the second lowest of all trusts in England.
Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust’s inpatient care fared far better. In June 117 out of 118 patients said they would recommend the trust, with the other remaining patient undecided. Its score for inpatient care was better than the national average.
Chief nurse and director of patient care standards, Lynne Swiatczak, thought the results had proved a mixed bag and said: “Over the past three months we have seen an increased response rate and improvements in our scores.
“We are extremely pleased to have received such a positive response from patients using our inpatient wards.
“It is a concern that fewer patients would recommend our A&E department – whilst the department is meeting all the national quality targets, we know there is more we need to do to understand the issues and improve the patient experience in this area.
“Based on patient feedback received so far, we know the A&E environment and confusion around staff uniforms were areas flagged for improvement.
“As a result we have standardised our uniforms to make it easier for patients to recognise different roles, and we are continuing with our £5 million upgrade of our A&E department. We hope to see a marked improvement in our score over the coming months.”
The nationwide survey was conducted in A&E and inpatient wards throughout April, May and June with more than 400,000 people responding.
There were 36 specific wards nationwide which patients overwhelmingly said they would tell friends and family to steer clear of but none of these form part of the Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust.
Critics have argued the test is too blunt to provide an accurate assessment of care and the NHS has warned against judging the individual scores given to trusts, hospitals and wards in isolation. It said the low response rate needs to be taken into consideration.
For example, in April and May Stoke Mandeville’s A&E only received slightly more than 1% in its response rate, making the score given to it during these months rather meaningless.
Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust was recently placed into special measures following a damning report by Sir Bruce Keogh.