30 July 2013
More than 35 NHS wards fail benchmark test
The first results from a new test that asked patients whether they would recommend a hospital to friends and family members have revealed 36 wards were given a negative score in June.
This was up from a previous level of 66 in May, with many NHS patients complaining of poor service and, in some cases, medical negligence caused by poor care.
However, the vast majority of wards were rated relatively well by users, with the rest of the 4,500 wards listed reporting positive or neutral results.
The family and friends test was brought in by prime minister David Cameron last year as part of an attempt to change the way performance is scored. There had previously been criticism the NHS was too geared around quantitative targets that compromised the quality of care.
Surveys were given to more than 400,000 hospital in-patients in April, May and June of this year, with subjects asked on a five point scale how they felt about the service they were given during their stay.
Poor performing wards include Chorley and South Ribble Hospital Rookwood Ward B, Southport and Formby District General Hospital Ward 9B, the Gwynne Holford ward at Queen Mary's Hospital Roehampton and Kingston Hospital's Derwent Ward.
However, data retrieved from the study is likely to be treated sceptically by some, as many of the units given negative ratings only had one response and, as such, may have been affected by isolated incidents.
According to the Metro newspaper, Peter Lynn, professor of survey methodology at the University of Essex, voiced concerns over the surveying programme.
"The rather simplistic methodology makes no allowance for differences between trusts or wards in types of patients, types of treatments, or the proportions or types of patients who provide an answer," he said.
"Although the objective is only to shine a light on poorer-performing trusts, the concern is that the light may not be shining in the right places."
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