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The largest survey of hospital patients ever undertaken in Ireland is now underway with 14,000 recently discharged patients invited to comment on their experiences of care and treatment.

This survey of patients views will provide feedback and information on what the hospitals are doing well, and the areas where they may not be doing so well, which they may need to improve upon.

Alongside researchers at the University of Ulster’s Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Research Institute and Psychology Research Institute, the survey is being conducted by the Irish Society for Quality and Safety in Healthcare (ISQSH) in partnership with the hospitals and is supported by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Health Research Board (HRB).

Welcoming the participation of the hospitals in the survey, ISQSH’s chairperson Denis Murphy said: “It is heartening to see that so many hospitals are embracing the concept of patient/service user feedback. It demonstrates a commitment by hospitals to continuous quality improvement based on user feedback and perception”.

“Such an approach is the foundation of quality healthcare provision and the hospitals should be commended for their participation. I would encourage patients who receive the survey to provide genuine feedback of their experiences and to avail of this valuable opportunity to help shape our health services. Rest assured that all responses are treated in the strictest of confidence and will help provide a meaningful picture on health care services in the state. The ISQSH will work with the hospitals, and of course, the service users to learn and further develop from this survey which will provide a key benchmark for future work.”

The survey enquires from patients about how they felt about waiting times, management of their pain, quality of food and accommodation, the information they received and how they were treated by hospital staff.

Suzanne McDonough, Professor of Health and Rehabilitation at the University of Ulster’s School of Health Sciences, said: “Measuring the patients’ experience of hospital services gives patients a valuable and unique opportunity to have their say in a confidential manner whether that is to be constructively critical or simply to acknowledge a positive experience. These responses will be used by the hospitals as part of their on-going drive to work with patients to improve services.”

Dr Hilary Dunne, CEO of the ISQSH added: “We need to learn from patients’ experiences to make the services better. In taking 20 minutes to complete the questionnaire, patients will be an active participant in the drive for making the service better for the next person. It is extremely important that patients value this opportunity to have their say and embrace it.”

The ISQSH are currently in the process of contacting the public to encourage them to return their questionnaire. Anyone who would like to participate can telephone the ISQSH freephone information line number on (00353) 1800 283 031.