No link between patient satisfaction and appointment waiting times
For immediate release 11 May 2016
24 June 2016 (Last updated: 3 Oct 2016 16:45)
NHS waiting time targets challenged by new study showing no link between patient satisfaction and appointment waiting times.
How long a hospital doctor spends with a patient is far more important to people than being seen within waiting time targets. A new survey challenges the accepted thinking that links long waits to patient dissatisfaction. It found that 90% of patients questioned (187/244) were extremely satisfied with their visit despite half of them saying that they had waited too long.
These surprising findings come from a new survey of patients attending oral and maxillofacial surgical outpatient consultations at Southampton University Hospital. Over a seven-day period the patients were asked to fill out a questionnaire before and after their appointments.
Lead author Eleonora Dimovska, a Registrar at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital, writing in the British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (BJOMS), says: “There is increasing pressure in the NHS to design services around the priorities and values of the patients, and patient autonomy is becoming increasingly important. If clinicians make decisions in the ‘best interests’ of patients without knowing their views, it could compromise the quality and appropriateness of care.
“A lot of our work as facial surgeons takes place in outpatient clinics, but we know very little about what patients think about their care. So, we decided to find out which aspects of care are associated with patient satisfaction.”
The survey found that patients top three priorities before the attending the outpatient consultation were:
seeing the doctor
good explanations of the diagnosis
confidence in the treatment plan
Patients also ranked as important:
being listened to
the ability of the doctor to recognise their personal needs.
“Clearly, the interaction between the doctor and patient is valued highly and associated with satisfaction, while waiting times are not,” Eleonora Dimovska explains.
She and her colleagues also cast doubt on the Care Quality Commission (CQC) Friends and Family Test (FFT), soon to be used in outpatient departments, and believe that it does not measures patient satisfaction adequately or provides enough information around which to guide service provision: “FFT uses only extremes of answers to calculate results, which means that the very many aspects of care are not reflected in the broad answers, and are insufficiently detailed to give a full understanding of patients’ experience.”
Mike Davidson, Chair of the British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (BAOMS) commented: “Knowing what patients think about their care is fundamental to the provision of an effective, quality health service – and it can help to direct change and manage costs. Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons will be able to use the findings from this survey to focus the development of services and improve patient-centre care.”
For further information contact: Siân Evans on 020 8674 8921 / 07752 414433 or email the office
The British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (BAOMS) promotes the advancement of education, research and the development of oral and maxillofacial Surgery in Great Britain, and encourages and assists postgraduate education, study and research. For more information see About BAOMS
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