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User feedback in maternity services

Patient feedback is an important tool for tracking the experience of those who use NHS services and, through this, the quality of care they receive. It also plays a key role in identifying problem areas and shaping service improvements. Maternity services are using a variety of feedback mechanisms, in addition to national tools, to help them understand women’s experience of maternity services.

This report looks at what maternity services are doing locally to collect, analyse and act on user feedback. It describes the challenges of adopting the different approaches and highlights the features of organisations that are successful in user feedback activities.

Key findings

  • Organisations need to have a clear view on the value and purpose of user feedback, which is supported by all staff.

  • Leaders are key to ensuring that user feedback and actions taken as a result of it are seen as a priority within the organisation and part of a wider culture of improvement.

  • Organisations with the strongest track record in patient feedback use a variety of approaches to collecting their service user’s views, including those tailored to local circumstances.

  • Service users should be involved in all stages of the feedback process, from the development of feedback tools to the design of service improvements.

  • Sufficient time and resources need to be invested in feedback systems so that feedback activities are protected when services are under pressure.

Policy implications

  • Patient experience is a central component of the quality of care in the NHS and therefore patient feedback – a measure of that experience – should be given priority in maternity services.

  • Organisations with the most developed approaches to feedback have adopted a wide variety of tools, tailored to local needs. They have also developed innovative ways of reaching users who may not respond so well to traditional methods of collecting feedback, to help ensure they are hearing from as many users as possible.

  • It is essential that sufficient time and resources are given to feedback activities so that they do not fall by the wayside when services are under pressure.