Scottish Inpatient Patient Experience Survey 2012 Volume 2: Technical Report

This report provides technical information on the survey design, sampling, fieldwork and analysis for the Scottish Inpatient Patient Experience Survey 2012.

This document is part of a collection

3 Changes to the Survey


3.1 Following the 2011 survey, a number of changes were made to the survey administration, questionnaire and reporting. Details of these changes are outlined below.

3.2 Information on the initial development of the survey is available in Chapter 3 of the technical report from the first survey carried out in 2010 at:

Changes to the death checks procedures

3.3 Improvements were made to the death checking procedures. Previously, NHS Boards were responsible for undertaking their own checks of their sample using information provided by National Records of Scotland (NRS). This year NHS Central Register[3] (NHSCR) undertook the death checks centrally.

3.4 NHS Boards provided details of their sampled patients to NHSCR. When the contractors were ready to post surveys they contacted NHSCR to request a death check. NHSCR ran death checks overnight and would notify the contractors of any deaths in the morning. The contractor would post the surveys later that day having removed any patients identified as deceased.

3.5 These new checks minimised the risk of sending surveys to people who were deceased by improving the process and minimising the lag between a death being registered and contractors receiving notification of it.

3.6 The new death checks procedure identified that non-Scottish residents were being sampled contrary to the eligibility criteria. These non-Scottish residents were then excluded from the sample. The survey did cover NHS Borders patients resident in Northumberland. However, it was not possible to carry out sufficiently timely and reliable death checks on these patients so they were excluded from the sample this year. Going forward, various options for death checks for these patients are currently being considered.

Changes to the questionnaire

3.7 New questions were introduced to find out about people's experiences of care and support services that they needed arranged before they could leave hospital. The four new questions were:

  • Did you need care or support services to be organised for when you got out of hospital?

If people answered yes to the first question they were asked the following three questions:

  • Did you have to stay in hospital for longer than expected to wait for your care or support services to be organised?
  • Did you feel that you got the care or support services that were right for you?
  • Overall, how would you rate the care or support services you got after leaving hospital?

3.8 The introduction of the new questions on care and support services led to the addition of a box allowing people to comment on these services.

3.9 The question that asked patients about how long they had to wait to get their medicines was relocated to the section with other questions about medicines. The wording of the question was also changed. In 2011 people were asked how much they agreed with the statement:

  • Any medicines I needed before I could go home were given to me in a reasonable time.

In the current survey this was simplified to make it easier for people to answer to:

  • I didn't have to wait too long to get my medicines.

3.10 Some of the demographic questions at the end of the questionnaire were shortened or simplified.

3.11 Boxes that allowed patients to write in other answers to the following questions were removed. The reason for this was that analysing the free text took a lot of time and did not result in useful information. For the religion question all of the religions that people wrote in were reclassified into one of the options with a tick box. People with interpretation needs were previously asked what help they required, but it was not possible to analyse this information.

  • What religion, religious denomination or body do you belong to?
  • Do you need an interpreter or other help to communicate?

3.12 The short form of the ethnicity question was used. This was also used for the patient experience survey of people registered with a GP practice.

Changes to the introductory letter and reminder letters

3.13 The introductory and reminder letters are available in Appendices C-E.

3.14 This year the letters were shortened and simplified to have a format similar to the survey of GP patients which was felt to have worked well. For the previous survey the letter included frequently asked questions within the body of it, but this year they were included on the reverse. This allowed the inclusion of more frequently asked questions and meant the letter could be shortened to only provide the key information about the survey.

Changes to the reporting

3.15 The local NHS Board and hospital reports have generally been well received to date. We consulted with staff from individual NHS Boards who are responsible for leading on patient experience work. These users made clear that they were used to the format of the reports and did not want any changes.

3.16 One change that was introduced this year was to increase the threshold number of responses from a particular hospital in order for us to publish a report. In previous years, reports were published if 20 or more people responded, but this year this has been increased to 50. The reason for this change was that for reports with a small number of respondents, the results were not sufficiently accurate.

3.17 We introduced a change to the threshold for reporting results for individual questions within the reports. For this year the results for individual questions are displayed if there are 30 responses compared to 20 last year.


Email: Gregor Boyd

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