Intended for healthcare professionals


Putting patients first

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 16 March 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2006
  1. Simon Eaton, national clinical lead1,
  2. Alf Collins, national clinical lead2,
  3. Angela Coulter, senior research scientist3,
  4. Glyn Elwyn, visiting professor 4,
  5. Natalie Grazin, assistant director5,
  6. Sue Roberts, chair1
  1. 1Year of Care Partnerships, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, North Shields NE29 8NH, UK
  2. 2Health Foundation’s Co-creating Health Programme, Health Foundation, London, UK
  3. 3Department of Public Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  4. 4Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, NH 03755, USA
  5. 5Health Foundation, London, UK
  1. simon.eaton{at}

NICE guidance on the patient experience is a welcome small step on a long journey

The recent publication of National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance and quality standards on patient experience,1 2 which are summarised in a linked article (doi:10.1136/bmj.d6422),3 provides some statutory weight to complement recent important recommendations on dignity in care from the NHS Confederation, the Local Government Association, and Age UK.4 The aims of the guidance, to create “sustainable change that will result in an ‘NHS cultural shift’ towards a truly patient-centred service” are laudable, and it is good to see that the principle that high quality patient experience should be at the heart of good clinical care is being upheld. Where implemented, NICE’s recommendations will lead to feasible and effective improvements in care. However, much of the guidance states the obvious, and many challenges remain to providing a health service that systematically, reliably, and demonstrably puts patients first.

It is a sad indictment of modern healthcare that we need such guidance in the first place. Restaurants and retailers may need to prompt new employees to offer good customer service, but most people would expect that delivering good service would be second nature for staff from the “the caring professions.” …

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