Letters Mid Staffs inquiry

Patient reporting of clinical incidents

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f1368 (Published 05 March 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1368
  1. Neil Patel, clinical research fellow1,
  2. Dominic King, clinical lecturer1,
  3. Paul Ziprin, senior lecturer and honorary consultant colorectal surgeon1,
  4. Ara Darzi, professor of surgery1
  1. 1Department of Surgery and Cancer, St Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College, London W2 1NY, UK
  1. neil.patel{at}imperial.ac.uk

The Francis report serves as a stark reminder of what happens when we fail to listen and act on the concerns of patients and their loved ones.1 Patients and their families do not need medical qualifications or to have worked in a hospital to notice when things aren’t functioning well.

We should take this opportunity to develop systems for patients to voice and report their praise and concerns regarding care delivered by the NHS. The Francis report recommended the enhanced use of incident reporting to protect patients, but the emphasis is still on collecting information from hospital staff, not service users too.

Patients are increasingly using the internet to report their experience of healthcare. Our department recently found an association between patients’ online hospital ratings and some objective measures of clinical quality. Positive recommendations of hospitals were significantly associated with lower hospital standardised mortality ratios, and better ratings of hospital cleanliness were associated with lower meticillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile infection rates.2

We need a well publicised national system that allows patients to report their healthcare experiences. Health providers would be expected to respond to any concerns raised about care they delivered, and monitoring bodies could use the resource to gauge public opinion. We believe that patient reporting could strengthen current reporting systems and make the care we deliver more responsive to our patients’ needs.


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1368


  • Competing interests: None declared.


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