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Great Western Ambulance Service is the first ambulance trust in the country to sign-up to receive patients’ views in public via an innovative on-line feedback service.
The Patient Opinion website is for NHS patients to comment on the treatment and care they received and to share their experiences. NHS trusts subscribing to the not-for-profit service can then use the feedback to improve their services.
GWAS is the first ambulance trust to subscribe to the service and will be actively promoting it in its vehicles.
The website encourages feedback from people who have dialled 999 for an emergency ambulance as well as from users of the GWAS Patient Transport Service and, in Gloucestershire, the GP out-of-hours service. For patients who do not have on-line access, they can still voice their opinions by calling 0845 113 0012.
Dr James Munro, Director of Research at Patient Opinion, said: "GWAS is taking an innovative and courageous step in asking people to feed back, in public, about their experience of using local ambulance services. No other ambulance service has yet done this. We are very excited to be working alongside GWAS, and we hope that real benefits will follow. It is a great example of using the web to increase transparency and help improve our public services."
Dr Ossie Rawstorne, GWAS Medical Director, added: “Understanding the patient experience is a really valuable way to improve quality and, by making patient stories visible through this website, we will be able to not only gain insight into how our service is perceived by those people that use it, but also put in place improvements in how we respond to patients”.
The Patient Opinion website is in addition to GWAS’s existing Patient Advisory Liaison Service (PALS),
while the trust also has teams dealing with complaints and compliments.
Dr Rawstorne continued: “Our PALS, complaints and compliments services are valuable ways for patients to comment on the care they have received, while GWAS also holds regular meetings with patient groups. All these will continue.
“However, one of the benefits of Patient Opinion is that it encourages other people to share their experiences, giving us the opportunity to more easily identify and address particular issues or themes from patients.”
Information promoting the Patient Opinion link will include stickers on board GWAS vehicles, posters for GP surgeries and hospital A&E units, and cards to hand out to patients.