The number of patients who were satisfied with their stay in an NHS hospital has fallen for the first time in six years.
A survey of 75,000 patients who had stayed at least one night in an NHS hospital found only 48% rated their overall inpatient experience as “nine or above” out of 10.
This is down from 50% in 2017 and is the first time it has fallen since 2012.
The research by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found an increase in those reporting lengthy delays, greater dissatisfaction with the amount of information provided when leaving hospital, and a rise in people who felt a lack of involvement in their care.
Of those who had an operation while in hospital, 80% said that staff answered their questions in a way they could understand “completely”. This has dropped slightly from 81% who said the same in 2017.
In addition, 69% said they “always” had confidence in the decisions made about their condition or treatment, a decrease from 71% in 2017.
Only 15% of respondents said they had been asked to give their views on the quality of care received during their stay, compared to 20% in 2017, and 54% felt they were definitely involved as much as they wanted to be in decisions about their care and treatment, down from 56% in 2017.
Fewer people said they had discussions with staff about the need for further health and social care services after they had been discharged (80% in 2018 compared to 81% in 2017).
Almost a quarter (24%) said they did not get enough support from health and social care professionals to manage their condition once they were back at home.
Professor Ted Baker, chief inspector of hospitals, said he was disappointed to see the overall lack of progress this year and that in some cases people are reporting poorer experiences.
“Last year’s survey showed a healthcare system still delivering improvements despite growing pressure. But this year, the improvement trend we have seen for the past six years has not been sustained,” he stated.
Baker warned that the mounting pressure on the system is having a direct impact on how people are experiencing inpatient care and that the need for greater collaboration between local health and care services has never been more apparent.