Patient experience in NHS services: new quality standard and guidance from NICE

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NICE have released two new publications that aim to ensure a good experience of care for people who use adult NHS services.

The first is a quality standard that stresses the importance of patients being given the opportunity to discuss their health beliefs, concerns and preferences in order to individualise their care. It also states that patients have their physical needs (such as nutrition, hydration, personal hygiene and pain relief) and psychological concerns (such as fear and anxiety) assessed. In addition the standard states that patients are made aware that they have the right to choose, accept or decline treatment and these decisions are respected and supported.

The accompanying clinical guidance on patient experience promotes person-centred care that takes into account a patient’s needs, concerns and preferences. It acknowledges the value patients place on healthcare professionals acknowledging their individuality and the unique way in which each person experiences a condition and its impact on their life. The guidance makes a number of recommendations on knowing the patient as an individual, essential requirements of care, and enabling the patient to actively participate in their care.

Recommendations include:

  • Develop an understanding of the patient as an individual, including how the condition affects the person, and how the person’s circumstances and experiences affect their condition and treatment
  • Ensure that the patient’s personal needs (for example, relating to continence, personal hygiene and comfort) are regularly reviewed and addressed. Regularly ask patients who are unable to manage their personal needs what help they need. Address their needs at the time of asking and ensure maximum privacy

Christine Carson, Programme Director, Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE said:

Understanding and improving patient experience of NHS services is essential to providing a service based on patients’ needs. Ensuring that the NHS is patient centered is crucial; therefore NICE is pleased to be publishing both a quality standard and guidance that will aid healthcare professionals in delivering the very best experience for patients, right across the NHS.

Dr Peter Carter, RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary, said:

The RCN welcomes the publication of this NICE quality standard and guidance. They are important and practical steps forward in ensuring that the NHS takes proper account of patients’ experiences in care. The quality standard and guidance echo the approach taken in the RCN’s Principles of Nursing Practice, in supporting nurses and healthcare assistants in delivering high-quality and safe care. We look forward to seeing the NICE quality standard reflected in commissioning intentions and to links being made between them and the NHS and social care outcomes frameworks.


Patient experience in adult NHS services quality standard. NICE, 24 Feb 2012.

Patient experience in adult NHS services: improving the experience of care for people using adult NHS services. NICE, 24 Feb 2012.

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Andre Tomlin

André Tomlin is an Information Scientist with 20 years experience working in evidence-based healthcare. He's worked in the NHS, for Oxford University and since 2002 as Managing Director of Minervation Ltd, a consultancy company who do clever digital stuff for charities, universities and the public sector. Most recently André has been the driving force behind the Mental Elf and the National Elf Service; an innovative digital platform that helps professionals keep up to date with simple, clear and engaging summaries of evidence-based research. André is a Trustee at the Centre for Mental Health and an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London Division of Psychiatry. He lives in Bristol, surrounded by dogs, elflings and lots of woodland!

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