Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Patient Partnership

Tell us how it was for you

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 20 November 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6872
  1. Tessa Richards, senior editor, BMJ
  1. trichards{at}

The opportunity for health professionals to respond directly to online reports from patients is providing scope for timely improvements to care

Ten years ago a friend suggested that I write up my experience of weathering emergency thoraco-abdominal surgery for adrenal cancer. “It will be a useful cathartic exercise,” she said. So I did, and maybe it was, but I didn’t share the story. Skilled care saved my life. Might any critical comment be seen as carping rather than constructive?

Now the value of collecting and learning from patients’ accounts of their experience of illness and care is well established and enshrined in policy, notably the UK Health and Social Care Act 2012. It’s widely seen as an essential tool to monitor and drive up the quality of care and to improve the delivery of services and the experience of patients who use them.

Yet despite “patient-centric” policy commitments and an obligation stemming from the Francis report into failings at Mid Staffordshire to listen, learn, and respond to the view of patients and carers, the gap between policy and practice still yawns.1 Swathes of information are being collected from patients, …

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