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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 May 2007, 00:52 GMT 01:52 UK
'90% happy' with hospital stays
Elderly patient with doctor
Most patients say they had a positive experience in hospital
Nine out of 10 patients treated in NHS hospitals in England are happy with their experiences, a survey suggests.

But 25% of respondents said they were not always treated with respect and 10% said they were put in mixed wards.

The Healthcare Commission said its survey of 80,000 patients was a "vote of confidence" in state care.

The survey also found patients did not care about having a choice of hospitals but were more worried about hospital hygiene and being treated with dignity.

We all hear a lot of negative comment about the NHS, but we must never forget that most patients have consistently rated the overall quality of their care as good or excellent
Anna Walker
Healthcare Commission

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "Of course patients want doctors they can trust, but that doesn't mean they don't also want choice or believe that hospital cleanliness is important.

"These are not either/or questions."

The Picker Institute carried out the large annual survey of patients in more than 167 acute and specialist NHS trusts in England.

Informed decision

At the same time they asked 448 participants what aspects of care were most important to them.

Choice of admission date or hospital and having enough information about hospitals to make an informed decision, as per government policy, were ranked at the bottom of 82 issues.

Results from the main survey showed nine out of 10 patients rated their stay in hospital as good to excellent in 2006.

The vast majority of patients said their ward or room had been very clean or fairly clean.

And about 70% of patients said doctors and nurses always washed or cleaned their hands between patients.

But about 22% of patients said they were not always treated with dignity and respect.

Although trusts are supposed to provide single-sex hospital wards and bathrooms more than one in 10 respondents who had a planned stay said they had been in a mixed-sex ward or room.

'Fresh drive'

Almost one in three said they had used a bathroom or shower area that was also used by the opposite sex.

About 20% of patients also complained they did not get help with eating when they needed it.

Healthcare Commission chief executive Anna Walker said a "fresh drive" was needed on dignity but only a minority of trusts were to blame.

"Patients have the right to expect all hospitals to get the basics right, like offering help with eating and answering calls for assistance.

"It is also clear that for a significant minority of patients, the NHS is performing below standards on segregated accommodation."

But she added: "We all hear a lot of negative comment about the NHS, but we must never forget that most patients have consistently rated the overall quality of their care as good or excellent."

'Endorsement'

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said: "Staff should take great pride from this endorsement of the care they provide day in day out."

Reducing the use of mixed-sex accommodation is a core priority over the coming year, she added.

British Medical Association consultants' committee chairman Dr Jonathan Fielden said: "It is gratifying that this survey reflects the immense efforts from doctors to improve the quality and experience of care for their patients despite the financial pressures placed upon the health service."

He added they had said for years that patients have more interest in the kind of treatment they receive than where they receive it.

"It is the political meddling that gets in the way, diverts attention and leads to so much of the waste."


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