It is vital that patients have trust in the healthcare system as they interact with it, says Kate Woodhead RGN DMS. She highlights the need to address patient experience and discusses recent moves, such as ‘Martha’s rule’, to address the power imbalance in healthcare.
An essential part of good quality healthcare should be focused on the patient experience. Healthcare itself often proclaims that it delivers ‘person-centred care’ – but is that really so? A heart wrenching interview on Radio 4’s Today programme with the mother of a young person who died of sepsis, which was not recognised, once again brought to a large audience the fault lines which pervade some aspects of care. The interview with Merope Mills highlighted the campaign for healthcare to adopt ‘Martha’s rule’ which would enable relatives and carers an escalation of worries to a team not immediately involved in the patient’s care for a second opinion.1 Some hospitals have reduced the number of cardiac arrests by developing a team of critical care nurses who can answer a ward nurses’ worries, or a relative with concerns about deteriorating patients by visiting and taking appropriate action. Martha’s rule is supported by the Department of Health in England, but has not yet been formulated into a national policy initiative.
Improving patient experience is not an easy ask. It needs effective leadership and a culture that accepts adaptation together with good data collection to measure and learn from patient feedback. There are many English Trusts for whom this is a step too far and with the development of the new integrated organisations, it is not clear where patient experience will fit. The concept of patient experience should be everyone’s business in clinical and healthcare leadership and learning should be enabled to ensure that negative feedback is identified, and systems reviewed with solutions implemented.
Patient experience, quality improvement and patient safety
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