The King's Fund statement in response to the Patients Association report 'Patients not numbers, people not statistics'

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Commenting on the report published today by The Patients Association documenting examples of poor hospital care, Jocelyn Cornwell, Director of The Point of Care programme at The King's Fund, said:

'From our own research we know that there are incidences of poor quality care where staff do not show compassion for patients. Patients' stories and complaints, and those of their relatives, are important evidence and should be taken seriously by hospitals. Together with surveys and other measurements, they can help hospitals create an accurate picture of patients' experiences and ensure that failures in care are not repeated and wherever possible prevented.

'Poor care cannot, however, simply be blamed on 'bad' individuals or particular groups of staff such as nurses. The vast majority of health care staff come to work wanting to provide the quality of care they would want for themselves or their own families. The team, work environment and organisation within which they work can make it difficult for staff to deliver compassionate care. Today's hospitals are often vast and the pressure of work is intense.

'If we really want to see improvements in the quality of care in hospital, we need to see hospital boards, executive directors and senior doctors and nurses actively demonstrating to staff that patients' experience of care matters. They need to supervise and support staff in their work with patients and routinely collect and use feedback from patients and relatives to improve service quality. Boards need to take responsibility for safety and quality, and send a clear and unambiguous message to staff and patients that good care, and the people who provide it, are highly valued.'

Notes to editors

1.    For further information or interviews, please contact The King’s Fund press and public affairs office on 020 7307 2585, 020 7307 2632 or 020 7307 2581. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.

2.    The King’s Fund is a charity that seeks to understand how the health system in England can be improved. Using that insight, we help to shape policy, transform services and bring about behaviour change. Our work includes research, analysis, leadership development and service improvement. We also offer a wide range of resources to help everyone working in health to share knowledge, learning and ideas.

3.    The Point of Care programme from The King's Fund aims to transform patients’ experience of care in hospital. The goal of the programme is to enable health care staff in hospitals to deliver the quality of care they would want for themselves and their own families. We are working with patients and their families, staff and hospital boards to research, test and share new approaches to improving patients' experience. More information is available at