A patient experience problem shared: the power of positivity

24th February 2019

On January 30th we hosted an event in Leeds with the Patient Experience Network (PEN). The event was called ‘Better Patient Experience: A Problem Shared’, where we sought to discuss how we could overcome two of the main barriers to better patient experience, namely:

  •  Keeping the energy of Patient Experience going – avoiding burnout, being resilient, being valued; together with how to avoid going into ‘auto-pilot’ and how to avoid becoming part of ‘the industry’
  • How to get Patient Experience into the Board Room and on a par with finance and quality, moving from being merely an agenda item to driving real interest and passion at the board level and an ambition to improve

The findings/results from the day will be summarised in our brand new White Paper which will be released later in the year, so I don’t want to go into too much detail at this stage but there’s a few observations that I’d make out of the traps:

Positivity, positivity, positivity

The positive energy in the room was palpable, thanks in no small part to the remarkable Ruth Evans and Louise Blunt from PEN. I’ve been to NHS events before where negativity abounds (quite understandable given the recent years of austerity, deficit and demoralising headlines), but this was so much different. Why? Simply because our focus was always on what we could do rather than why things wouldn’t work. That simple change in mind-set unlocks great creativity and collective problem-solving. Which leads me to…


As I write this, it seems daft to me that the NHS was ever focused on competition above collaboration. While a bit of healthy competition can indeed drive up standards, in NHS-land it simply prompted good organisations and good people to isolate themselves, I fear. In doing so, they failed to talk, failed to share experiences, and failed to discover the collective solutions that are (from my point of view) only ever a conversation away. We all have something to bring to the table – skills, practical solutions, ideas – and it’s this collaborative approach that will deliver the best solutions in the quickest time. It’s a no brainer!

Good staff experience = good patient experience

This was one of the most pleasing things to hear at the event…and hear it we did…several times…loud and clear. This equation has been on our collective mind for a while now, but it’s something that (formally at least) is still to be widely acknowledged at the higher echelons of the NHS – at the board tables that can do something about it. But on too many times to mention, it was a link made by our attendees (unprompted I may add). Get your staff experience right (i.e. listen to their concerns, act upon them, expose them to praise, give them time to reflect etc.) and their happiness/contentment with their job will reflect onto the patients they serve. It’ll also help with job satisfaction and retention. So, given that the NHS currently faces an unprecedented workforce challenge, is it time to give staff experience the same due care and attention that is currently (and rightly) paid to patient experience?

Keep your eyes peeled for that White Paper I mentioned, which we are due to launch at our ‘Challenge 2020: Engagement and Experience’ conference (to be held in London on Tuesday May 21st).