Patient surveys identify needsBMJ 2000; 320 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.320.7230.314 (Published 29 January 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:314
- Rajan Madhok, director of health policy and public health (, )
- Raj Bhopal, Bruce and John Usher professor of public health
EDITOR—Cleary is right to exhort us to undertake patient surveys to improve the quality of care provided.1 Surveys are particularly important with regard to ethnic minority populations since, because of different languages, they may find it difficult to communicate their experiences or may be generally less forthcoming than others.
We undertook surveys of the provision of hospital services in Middlesbrough to ascertain the needs of Asian people. As a result, appropriate services were made available and satisfaction levels were improved.2 A further survey highlighted the need for continuous monitoring, since some aspects—for example, provision of interpreting services—had not been fully implemented.3
The second survey was extended to ascertain views on and use of a range of clinical services,including family planning, cervical smear and breast examination tests, and other settings including primary care.3 4 An interesting finding was the high level of satisfaction with many aspects of healthcare provision—for example, over 90% of Pakistani people were very satisfied or satisfied with the care received in inpatient and outpatient departments and from their general practitioners.
In conclusion, therefore, patient surveys can, and should, be undertaken. They can not only identify needs and help in the planning of better services but also dispel some myths: the feedback is not always negative. The surveys are most beneficial if they are part of the continuous quality improvement programme.