A new study from Patient Experience Platform (PEP) shows the disparities in healthcare across the UK, which experts believe are likely to grow because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to insights from PEP, who analyse thousands of publicly available patient comments, patient satisfaction has dramatically declined since the end of the third lockdown in January 2021, despite a widespread sense of gratitude for the National Health Service (NHS) when the pandemic first hit in March 2020.
PEP automatically identifies and gathers millions of items of publicly-available feedback from a variety of online platforms including social media. PEP's custom algorithms categorise and score the feedback providing a proven, accurate and unbiased summary of what patients really think.
The research shows that some regions, notably London and the West Midlands, have suffered the greatest decline, with patient experience scores dropping well below the national mean. Negative patient comments which were as low as 13% in June 2020 then sharply increased to 49% by the end of last month.
Other areas, such as the south west, have managed to weather the storm better, with continuously good patient experience. This has only exacerbated the widening regional differences in care quality as poorer performing regions continue to lose more ground.
The data also reveals a sharp decline in fast access scores which have driven the overall drop in patient experience. Fast access refers to the speed at which patients can access acute care (A&E, inpatient and outpatient services).
Waiting lists for non-critical procedures are now the longest they have ever been and the current backlog is reported to be 5.61 million appointments. Unsurprisingly, this backlog is having a direct and serious impact on patient experience.
Dr Mark Lomax, Chief Executive of PEP Health, said: “Looking ahead, we can assume that the many cancellations to elective care and other COVID-19 pressures, as well as seasonal strains, will continue to bite. By adopting PEP Health technology, NHS trusts can manage these pressures much more effectively.
“We want our data to be used as a learning tool by healthcare organisations. By having access to real time insights, action can be taken in the here and now to help rectify the challenges NHS trusts are having before they are downgraded by CQC.”
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