MPs, Peers and health professionals focus on reversing the fall in NHS customer satisfaction

18th Mar 2015

The tick-box mentality should be consigned to history if the NHS is to improve customer experience, according to a gathering of MPs, peers and health professionals.  Figures from the latest UK Customer Service Index revealed at the latest All Party Parliamentary Group on Customer Service also show that overall satisfaction with NHS services and GPs has fallen below the national average for customer satisfaction.

UK customers awarded a score of 73.1 (out of 100) for their local “NHS/hospital” for customer satisfaction in the latest UKCSI, down from a high of 78.4 in 2013. The score for “GP surgery/health centre” has also fallen, to 74.5 from a peak of 78 in 2012. While these scores are higher than both the national public sector average of 71.3 and the local public sector average of 72.1, they are lower than the average of 76 across all 13 sectors that were surveyed.

Jo Causon, CEO of The Institute of Customer Service, commented:

“The NHS is one of the organisations that impacts people’s lives when they are at their most vulnerable, yet the people that deliver these services can be spread across a range of public and private organisations with different leadership groups, cultures and pressures.“The latest APPG meeting identified the key priorities that need to be addressed to improve customer satisfaction and deliver a seamless service that focuses on patients as customers. While the wider public debate around the NHS has often hinged around funding, this meeting showed that culture and people are the most important elements and that costs can often be reduced by improving customer service.”

Steve Reed MP, Co-chair of the Group, said:

“This is precisely what the APPG for Customer Service helps to achieve - a forum in which to share and debate best practice in customer service across disciplines, introduce new ideas and highlight areas where improvements can be made. This level of interaction will bring great benefits to the NHS.”

Philip Davies MP, Co-chair of the Group, added:

“Without this group this conversation simply wouldn’t be taking place. The collaboration of experts in customer service and the delivery of health services is critical in making sure the NHS is world class organisation with world class customer service."

Philip Davies MP and Steve Reed MP were joined by a number of peers, including Baroness Masham of Ilton, crossbench peer and chair of the All-Party Health Group, as well as Lord Scriven, Liberal Democrat life peer.Key speakers at the event included Des Benjamin, chairman of the Royal Hospital for Neuro-Disability, and Peter Cocco, head of HR operations and organisational development for The Royal College of Nursing. Organisations including MacMillan Cancer Support, Bupa and the Healthcare Professions Council also contributed to the debate.

The group met to discuss how to address the results of the latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI), which tracked the customers’ experience of the NHS and revealed that satisfaction from services delivered by the NHS continues to fall.The Institute of Customer Service also conducted research that identified what excellent customer service looks like in the public sector in July 2014 and made a number of key recommendations.

‘Citizens and Customers: Further Building the Case for Customer Service in the Public Sector’ recommended that organisations: have a strategic commitment to customer service and the leadership capabilities to deliver on it build a customer-focused culture including standards of customer service behaviour and performance, proactive employee engagement strategies and developing skills in key areas such as emotional intelligence and business improvementensure consistent benchmarking of performance across the public sector and seeking examples of excellence from outside the sector.

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Notes to editors

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About The Institute of Customer Service

The Institute of Customer Service is the professional body for customer service delivering tangible benefit to organisations and individuals so that our customers can improve their customers' experience and their own business performance. The Institute is a membership body with a community of over 400 organisational members - from the private, public and third sectors - and over 5,000 individual memberships.

For more information about the Institute of Customer Service go to www.instituteofcustomerservice.com

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