Since 2000 the polling group Ipsos Mori has conducted a series of surveys about the public’s opinion of the NHS.
These surveys cover a number of broad topics on the NHS including: overall satisfaction and strength of satisfaction with how the NHS is run, optimism for the future of the NHS, awareness and expected impact of the NHS reforms, and perceptions of patient safety, resourcing and the big health problems of the day.
On the social care side, people are polled on their experience of social care, its provision, as well as their perceptions of social care services at a national and local level.
Figures going back to 1983 are available from the National Centre for Social Research’s British Social Attitudes Survey which also tracks overall levels of satisfaction with the NHS and social care services.
Patient experience figures focus on people who actually use health services. Figures for patient experience in England are published by NHS England, based on the national patient survey programme. Summary information is there on ease of access, waiting times, quality of information, patient choice, standards of comfort and cleanliness.
The same programme produces data on specific services as well. The Care Quality Commission’s website compiles patient surveys on A&E and mental health services. It also collects data on the experiences of inpatients (those staying in hospital overnight) and outpatients (those not needing a bed for recovery).
There are also survey figures for four clinical procedures: hip and knee replacements, groin hernias and varicose veins. These are recorded through patient reported outcome measures (PROMS) which assess patients’ views on their health before and after a procedure. The data is published by NHS Digital and dates back to 2009.
For patients’ experiences of GPs surgeries, there’s a separate GP patient survey. This is conducted bi-annually by Ipsos Mori on behalf of NHS England.
The survey provides detailed information on patients’ overall experience of GP services including: access to GP services, out-of-hours GP services and GP ‘soft’ skills such as explaining procedures to patients. Information is also collected from patients with long-standing health conditions regarding the support they receive from local services to help manage their condition.
Detailed results at practice, Clinical Commissioning Group and national level are available on the GP patient survey website. The GP patient survey also collects information on patients’ experiences of NHS dentist services including access to services and overall experience of them.
The experience of people using adult social care services is captured by the annual Adult Social Care Survey, published by NHS Digital.
This asks users questions about themselves and their experience such as: their quality of life and whether social care services improve it, whether they feel safe and comfortable, how much contact they receive from services and whether they feel they’re treated with dignity.
The data is broken down by age, gender, ethnicity, client group (for instance physical, mental or learning disability) and the type of treatment received.
The Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework also uses information from a variety of sources to put together a picture of how well social care services provide what matters to people who use them. NHS Digital also publishes information on how many people in the care system have been referred to authorities because they are at risk.
The Care Quality Commission provides an annual report on the state of health and social care across England. This includes information on the outcomes of inspections across the year.
NHS England publishes figures on the Friends and Family Test, administered by the Care Quality Commission. It’s a single question survey which asks patients whether they would recommend the service they received to friends and relatives who might need similar treatment.
However there’s currently no system for choosing which patients are asked the survey, so as yet the findings are of limited use.