Inpatient Experience Survey 2018: technical report

This report provides information on the technical aspects of the 2018 Inpatient Experience Survey, including development, implementation, analysis and reporting.

This document is part of a collection

5. Fieldwork

The Scottish Government contracted Quality Health Ltd to administer the survey. Quality Health Ltd has in-depth experience of NHS surveys, and has provided support for other care experience survey work both in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK. ISD Scotland provided support for the administration of the survey along with Scottish Government analytical staff.


The fieldwork began on 31 January 2018 with 51,440 survey packs initially posted by the contractor on behalf of each NHS Board [4] .

Reminder letters were sent out twice during the duration of fieldwork to further encourage participation in the study. The first reminder, which consisted solely of a reminder letter, was sent on 28 February 2018 to all people who did not respond to the first mailing in the three or four weeks after receiving the initial survey pack.

A second reminder, which consisted of a full survey pack, was sent out on 21 March 2018 to all those people who did not respond approximately four weeks after the first reminder letter was issued.

Data Collection

Data was collected in the form of hardcopy (postal) returns and online returns.

During the fieldwork, a free helpline was made available to respond to queries and for telephone survey completions (including a language translation service).

People who were recently deceased

As with all Care Experience surveys, every possible effort was made by Quality Health Ltd, ISD and the Scottish Government to avoid questionnaires being sent to family members of people who had died. Therefore, similar to previous surveys, before the initial survey and reminders were issued, a list of people included in the survey was sent to NHS Central Register ( NHSCR [5] ) and linked to the National Records of Scotland ( NRS) deaths database. This allows NHSCR to provide regular extracts of decreased people to ISD Scotland during the various mail-out periods. ISD subsequently passed this information on to Quality Health Ltd, who removed survey packs as required prior to mailout. Having access to death information greatly reduced the number of questionnaires being sent to addresses of deceased people. We are grateful to NHSCR for their help and support during this stage of the project.

A total of 731 people were identified as deceased by NHSCR checks and removed from the sample prior to the initial mail-out of the survey. These individuals were not sent survey packs.

NHS CR checks identified 498 and 354 people as deceased prior to the first and second reminders respectively. These individuals were not sent reminders. In a further 34 cases, a questionnaire was sent to a person who had died but had not yet appeared on the deaths database and the person's family contacted Quality Health Ltd to notify them of this.

Any death which occurs in Scotland must be registered within eight days of the date of death. This means that there can be a delay between the actual date of death and the date that it is registered and updated on the CHI and NRS databases.

This delay, combined with the volume of the mail out process, made it extremely difficult to prevent all questionnaires being sent to addresses of people who had died. However, as outlined above, efforts were made to avoid this as much as possible.


Back to top