Private patients are customers too

On Tuesday 19th March 2019, at Royal Derby Hospital, Derby, the annual NHS Private Patient Service Development conference takes place. To support the event we are counting down our top seven key areas for action for Trusts – taken together these make up the ingredients for PPU success. We work with these seven in our Audit Tool when working with Trusts to develop their local service. Today, #4, Service Quality.

After 24/7-peace-of-mind (Patient Safety, as discussed in yesterday’s blog) the three most important factors that lead patients to pay for their healthcare are: choice of consultant and a consultant-led service, accessibility and a personal/customer service.

As we know, NHS Trusts are in the strongest position to demonstrate clinical service quality and infrastructure support, but often find it harder to meet customer service quality expectations of consultants and their patients.

Consultants must be viewed as the key customers and private patient service design should where possible reflect their expressed need. The views and inputs of consultants can best be obtained through proactive individual contact, regular specialty and team reviews and also whole-consultant body engagement surveys. Surveys can be done online and are particularly valuable.

In addition, there should be formal mechanisms in place to capture private patient user feedback. This can be through Friends and Family, and equivalents, and should incorporate the wider Trust’s processes, to ensure consistency and comparisons. Sometime, patients will complain and given that the NHS Ombudsman service no longer covers private patients in NHS hospitals PPUs should subscribe to ISCAS to ensure that a complainant has access to fully independent procedures.