Patient positivity about NHS hospital services suffered a sharp drop during the autumn, and satisfaction with access is now well below pre-pandemic levels, according to analysis exclusively shared with HSJ.
The analysis of social media and online sentiment by PEP Health appears to show that a surge of goodwill towards the health service during the first covid peak last spring dissipated last autumn.
At that time, the first-wave peak had passed, but hospitals were getting a lot busier — with more emergency attendances, and efforts to get planned appointments and procedures back close to normal levels. Emergency departments were coming under strain, coping with infection control measures, and large numbers of very long waits for elective care had built up.
The drop in positive feeling towards NHS hospitals was particularly felt between October and January, especially with concerns over the speed of access to health services. The work only covers acute hospital services.
One hospital chief executive told HSJ the change in patient sentiment was palpable at the frontline. “There is quite a lot of chippiness from patients and relatives. The ‘we love the NHS’ feels a very long lost memory.
“We see a lot of chippiness to staff, and aggression and irritability — which is understandable because everyone’s been waiting a long time — but is really unhelpful because everyone [staff are] knackered and trying to do their best.”
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Source: HSJ, 22 February 2021