National survey shows most children and young people report good experiences of hospital care, but highlights some areas for improvement
The majority of children and young people who stayed in hospital overnight or were seen as a day case patient were happy with the care they received, said that they received answers when they asked any questions and said they thought staff did everything possible to control their pain, according to a new survey by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Similarly, 81% of parents and carers rated their child’s overall experience as eight or above out of ten.
Published on November 28, the results of the second children and young people’s survey reveal what over 34,000 children and young people under the age of 16 and their parents and carers said about the hospital care they received during November and December 2016.
Overall 91% of children and young people aged 8-15 who took part in the 2016 survey said they had been looked after ‘very well’ or ‘quite well’ while in hospital and 87% felt that the staff looking after them were ‘always’ friendly.
The majority of children and young people aged 8-15 were also positive about the way in which staff had communicated with them. Eighty-six per cent reported that staff had talked to them about how they would be cared for, and of those who had an operation or procedure while in hospital, 93% said they received an explanation beforehand about what would happen. Most young people aged 12-15 (90%) who wanted to talk to a doctor or nurse without their parent or carer being there said they were able to.
Among parents and carers of children aged seven and under, 83% felt their child had ‘always’ been well looked after by hospital staff and 85% felt that, as parents and carers, they were ‘always’ treated with respect and dignity.
Almost all parents and carers of children aged 0-15 (97%) said that the hospital room or ward where their child was treated was ‘very clean’ or ‘quite clean’ and 91% said that staff had agreed a plan for their child’s care with them.
While the majority of responses reflect a positive experience, the survey also identified some areas where NHS trusts could improve.
More than a third of children aged 8-11 (36%) said that they did not always understand what staff said when they spoke to them and a fifth of this age group (20%) said they did not feel involved at all in making decisions about their care or treatment.
A small proportion (3%) of young people aged 12-15 spent most of their stay in hospital on an adult ward. Over one in 10 (11%) of these patients did not feel the ward was suitable for someone of their age.
More than a third (36%) of parents and carers said that staff were not ‘always’ available when their child needed attention. More than a quarter (28%) felt that staff did not ‘definitely’ know how to care for their child’s individual or special needs and 8% thought staff were unaware of their child’s medical history.
Survey responses were often less positive where a child or young person had a self-reported mental health condition.
Professor Ted Baker, Chief Inspector of Hospitals at the Care Quality Commission, said: “Overall, the NHS should be pleased with the results of the 2016 survey which show the majority of children and young people were happy with their care. This is a testament to the hard work and dedication of hospital staff working with children and young people across the country. It also reflects the findings from our inspections, which show the quality of children and young people’s services is often rated higher than any other core service within a hospital.
“However, the survey does show some areas where children, young people and their parents and carers reported room for improvement. Hospitals should examine the results of this survey, together with our inspection reports and take steps to improve their care where necessary.
“We’re encouraging more children and young people to share their experiences of care with us. Along with our inspections, this feedback is crucial to help the NHS improve the quality of its services for children and young people.”
The survey findings have been shared with providers to review their individual results and take steps to address any areas where improvements are needed. CQC will continue to use the findings as part of its wider monitoring of the quality of children and young people’s services and to plan and target its inspections.
While this is the second survey of its kind, it is not possible to compare the survey findings to those from when it was last carried out in 2014 due to changes to the sampling period.