9 top online sources to check the quality of an NHS service
We all have the right to choose where we have NHS treatment, including NHS hospitals, private clinics which offer NHS care and organisations like Care UK treatment centres.
But how can you be sure that the hospital you choose is the best for your procedure? There is plenty of information out there but it can be confusing to understand. Here we outline the 9 top sources to help you make your decision.
Care Quality Commission
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the organisation which inspects care providers and rates their performance against care standards required by law. As a regulator it can take action if it finds that standards are not as they should be. The CQC has four ratings: Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement and Poor. It is a good source of information about the quality of care provided.
Patient Reported Outcome Measures
Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) reflect the effectiveness and results of surgery and care from the patient’s perspective. They cover four areas of surgery – hip replacements, knee replacements, groin hernias and varicose veins. It collects data from all providers of care and publishes its findings four times a year, usually February, May, August and November. PROMs data are available at www.hscic.gov.uk/proms.
NHS Choices is a great resource full of information and advice not just about providers of care, but also about different conditions, what they entail and what their treatments might be. Simply type the name of your chosen hospital into the search bar and it will provide you with information about that provider, including feedback from other patients. It allows them and you to rate the hospital on a five-star rating, rather like Tripadvisor.
It is important to know that the hospital you choose has a good track record on hospital acquired infections – at Care UK for example our treatment centres report zero or negligible infection rates. Public Health England compiles an annual report on surgical site infections in NHS hospitals in England, and this can be downloaded at www.gov.uk/government/publications/surgical-site-infections-ssi-surveillance-nhs-hospitals-in-england.
Hospitals should also provide clear and up to date information about their infection rates on their website – all Care UK treatment centres do this.
Friends and Family Test
The Friends and Family Test gives patients the opportunity to provide feedback on their care and asks them if they would recommend a particular service to their friends and family. All providers of care must allow their patients the opportunity to take part, and at Care UK our patients are given opportunities throughout their care pathway to leave feedback on one of our iPad tablets. The results of the Friends and Family test are published monthly on the NHS England and NHS Choices websites and they are a good indication of the sort of care provided by a particular hospital.
Patient Led Assessment of the Care Environment
The Patient Led Assessment of the Care Environment (PLACE) is an annual audit of elements of the care provided and is carried out by local people and patients. They assess and score cleanliness, food, privacy, dignity and wellbeing, condition, appearance and maintenance, dementia provision and disabled provision. Care UK treatment centres consistently score above the national average in PLACE criteria. You can check PLACE scores at http://digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB30055.
Simply type a care provider’s name into the Google search engine and reviews for that provider should appear in the results. These are reviews left by patients and others and while useful in themselves, should be used in conjunction with other information when making your choice about where to have treatment. We would not recommend basing your choice on Google reviews alone.
Providers of care should have their own websites as a source of useful information, which should be presented in a clear and easy to understand way. Look out for regularly updated details and news – for example, at Care UK we update our waiting times weekly. A good hospital website should clearly show: contact details; services provided; details of management and surgeons; waiting times; how to get treatment; frequently asked questions (and answers!); and how to leave feedback.
Facebook and social media
Many hospitals have their own Facebook and other social media platforms and they are a great way to keep up to date with news and information. They are also a good indication of what patients and others think of that particular hospital. On Facebook, look out for a healthy number of page ‘likes’ and a good star rating. Used in conjunction with other sources of information social media platforms can give you a good ‘feel’ for the sort of care you could expect from a particular hospital.