Review: Improving patient experience


Haelo Programme Manager, Bridget Armour, attended a ‘Patient Experience’ presentation this week at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, led by Paul Jebb, Patient Experience Lead Nurse for NHS England and Matt King OBE.

Bridget reviews the thought provoking and inspirational session, which left participants with plenty to take away to enhance their services through involving patients in the design, organisation and delivery of programmes.


Paul began the session by explaining the meaning of ‘patient experience’ and how it directly links to the quality and outcomes of care. Essentially ‘patient experience’, which is now becoming an academic topic in its own right, incorporates various strands including culture, interactions, perceptions and is important across the continuum of patient care.

A vital part of the patient experience is ‘staff experience’ which is key to the culture of an organisation. This will resonate with the Safer Salford and PrISMS programme teams at Haelo as we embark on the safety culture surveys in the next couple of weeks. The key message in Paul’s introduction was not ‘what we do’ but ‘how we do it’. He stated that within the NHS we tend to look at processes, but only include the people’s view and their experiences of the system as a secondary item – he emphasises that the latter should be just as important as the former.

An interesting point for us in Haelo was the discussion around how we design and organise our services. Paul stressed that services need to be designed around the wants and needs of the end user or recipient, and involving them in the co-design and co-creation processes, services, programmes and projects from their inception will achieve greater outcomes. Examples of such collaborative work included process mapping, questionnaire development etc.

Patient story

The second part of the presentation was from Matt King, OBE. Matt told his ‘patient story’ related to a spinal cord injury which occurred on the rugby field, at the age of 17 which left him paralysed from the neck down and unable to breath without the assistance of a ventilator. The key message he conveyed was how the interaction with healthcare staff gave him both the worst and best life experiences since his accident.

His worst experience was when he was fully ventilated in intensive care, but felt that his ventilator was failing. The only way how could attract attention was to make a clicking sound with his tongue to alert the nurse who was in charge of his care – but even though she heard him she refused to come over. After what seemed like an eternity, she ambled over to his bed side and without looking at him, told him that ‘patience was a virtue’. He described this as the darkest moment of his life, as he had no control over any part of his life and the person he was totally reliant on, only cared about keeping him alive until the end of her shift.

Conversely, a life changing moment occurred in the middle of the night (during his 9 month admission to the the National Spinal Injuries Centre) when a nurse took the time to listen to his worries and then described her experiences with other spinal injury patients, who had gone on to achieve amazing feats and experiences that they might not have done in their previous lives as able bodied people. Matt has since completed the New York Marathon, gained a degree in Law, works in London as a Solicitor and is due to get married next week. He did explain that he had to be realistic about his choice of employment as with his disability he would have ‘made a rubbish mechanic’!

He re-emphasised the message that Paul gave at the beginning of the presentation – which it’s not what we do but how we do it.

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