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.

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5 Fieldwork


5.1 This section of the report provides detail on the survey fieldwork activities for the inpatient survey, including roles, collecting data and the timing of reminder letters during the fieldwork period.

Fieldwork activities

5.2 NHS Boards were responsible for appointing a survey contractor to administer the survey on their behalf. A Better Together Framework Agreement containing a list of approved contractors was developed after a rigorous selection process run by NSS National Procurement. NSS National Procurement undertakes national procurement exercises for the NHS in Scotland.

5.3 NHS Boards used this framework contract to appoint a survey contractor which best met need their local needs and requirements. Ultimately for the 2012 survey process, across the 14 NHS Boards and the National Waiting Times Centre Board, two contractors were appointed, Quality Health and Patient Perspective. Ten NHS Boards contracted Quality Health while five appointed Patient Perspective.

5.4 Scottish Government staff provided day-to-day support for the administration of the survey to NHS Boards and contractors during the fieldwork period. In addition, the inpatient survey guidance manual set out the minimum requirements to be adhered to regarding ethics, data transfer and data security for fieldwork to be undertaken.

5.5 Contractors carried out the fieldwork element of the inpatient survey, organising the mail out of survey packs, sending weekly monitoring updates to the NHS Board and the Scottish Government, issuing reminders, input and quality assurance of data and sending completed datasets to ISD.

5.6 The fieldwork commenced on a rolling basis on the 26th January 2012. In total 55,231 survey packs were initially posted out in batches between 26th January 2012 and 27th February 2012 by the contractors on behalf of each NHS Board. The survey pack contained the following:

  • Introductory / Cover letter;
  • Better Together Patient Survey;
  • A language sheet;
  • Information leaflet; and
  • FREEPOST envelope in which to return the survey.

5.7 The front page of the survey provided information on how to complete the survey and directed respondents to a helpline number and website.

5.8 The cover letter provided detail on why recipients had been chosen to participate in the survey, instructions on how to take part and information relating to the security of their personal data.

5.9 The information leaflet provided information on arrangements for reporting the results of the survey. It also included information on accessing the survey in other formats and contained a space for contractors to add the telephone number for their translation line by the eight minority languages most widely spoken in Scotland.

5.10 Patients who did not wish to take part in the survey were advised to indicate this either by phoning the helpline number and leaving their details so that they could be removed from the mailing list or return the uncompleted questionnaire using the FREEPOST envelope.

5.11 Reminder letters were sent out twice during the duration of fieldwork at two week intervals to further encourage participation in the study. The initial reminder was sent in batches between 20th February 2012 and 21st March 2012 to all patients who did not respond to the first mailing. The first reminder pack consisted of a letter requesting the potential respondent to complete the questionnaire previously sent in the original survey pack.

5.12 A second reminder was sent out in batches between 13th March 2012 and 11th April 2012. The second reminder letter was sent to all those patients who did not respond approximately four weeks after the first reminder letter was issued. At this stage a full survey pack (additional copy of the questionnaire and leaflet and a FREEPOST envelope) was re-issued along with the second reminder letter to make it easier for the participants to respond.

5.13 Before the initial survey and each reminder was issued, NHSCR[5] undertook death checks to identify patients who had recently died to minimise the risk of the survey going to dead patients' addresses.

5.14 The survey closed on 30th April 2012. In total, 55,231 survey packs were sent to patients and 28,709 were returned, giving an overall response rate of 52%.

5.15 During the fieldwork, a freephone helpline was made available to respond to queries from patients' surveys. Approximately 1,750 telephone enquiries were received.


Email: Gregor Boyd

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