It works a little like this:
NHS England oversees the budget, planning, delivery and day-to-day operation of the commissioning side of the NHS in England as set out in the Health and Social Care Act 2012. They are ultimately responsible for decisions about which organisations provide what services, where and for how much but the process is handled by local clinical commissioning groups. Phrases such as 'Patient Involvement' and 'Putting Patients first' and 'The NHS belongs to the people' characterise much of what the NHS is about.
For this to mean anything there have to be inspections and measures.
Putting patients first: Easy-read
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) ensure by regular inspection that the organisations providing NHS services are doing so to the standards set . They last conducted a full inspection at Homerton in February 2016; you can access their report here.
The CQC talk to staff and patients to find out amongst other things more about waiting times in A&E, surgery, nurse staffing levels and hospital based infections. High priority is given to patient feedback.
This feedback is gathered in a number of ways. Every year heralds a new programme of surveys. Users of paediatric, inpatient, outpatient, maternity and A&E services are canvassed in two important ways; firstly, by mail and secondly, face to face during a patient visit to the hospital.
The latter method is called the Friends and Family Test (FFT), the test being the patient's likelihood to recommend the care provider to a friend or family member who needed similar treatment. Hospitals are all expected to achieve high ratings for this and their results are published on the NHS Choices website.
One of the functions of the NHS Choices site is to help you make informed decisions about who you choose to provide your care. If you are considering Homerton's Maternity services for instance, you can find feedback from our service users and compare it with feedback about other providers in the area.
And so the NHS England requisite for 'patient involvement' becomes achievable; one patient makes a choice informed by the published experience of others.
This is the virtuous circle designed to deliver improved patient experience.
In addition hospitals have their own internal committees comprised variously of staff, directors, members, patients and local residents. You can read more about our Patient Experience and Engagement Forum (PEEF) and the User Engagement Committee
Sometimes we work with other organisations such as Healthwatch Hackney to make improvements. At any one time we have in train a number of projects contributing to our continuous improvement; you can read some of them here.