Patients in Shetland are being encouraged to write about their experiences of health care, good and bad, on NHS Shetland’s revamped website which has just gone live.
In future some patients and carers may be invited to tell their stories on tape, video or in person to the NHS board, which manages health services in Shetland.
The new independent feedback system, called Patient Opinion, started in a low-key way in January, prompting only six responses so far by email, phone and letter. Five were complimentary and the other conveyed ideas for improvements.
Patient Opinion is a non-profit service independent of NHS Shetland and the NHS which confidentially handles each “story” about a person’s experience of the NHS, including what was good and what could have been better.
The comments on the whole range of NHS services, from GPs and dentists to hospitals and care in the community, are then put before clinical teams for response.
NHS Shetland now hopes feedback will increase via its new website at www.shb.scot.nhs.uk/ so that it can use the information to improve services.
Shetland NHS director of nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals Kathleen Carolan said plans for expanding the Patient Opinion service were still being finalised and will be reported to the board in June.
Chairman Ian Kinniburgh said the local NHS needed to treat Patient Opinion as “a serious mechanism” for dealing with problems and praise. “It is up to us to ensure we do react to this,” he said.
Board member Keith Massey said the experience of NHS Ayrshire and Arran was that patients volunteering to talk about their treatment was “much more powerful” than the results of someone filling in a questionnaire box.
Another member, Malcolm Bell, was sure there was much more feedback “out there” which the board is currently missing and should be trying to capture.
Meanwhile, most board members are blazing a trail for a paperless future, attending meetings armed only with their NHS-issue iPads instead of a hefty pile of reports which this week ran to 448 pages.
Mr Kinniburgh said the board was striving to move to paperless board and committee meetings. Although there was a substantial outlay to buy the handheld computers he said the board anticipated a big reduction in print costs, especially in replacement colour cartridges, as well as in postage costs and the many hours of staff time that would not have to be spent photocopying documents.