HSE and patient experience survey


Sir, – I usually find Jacky Jones can provide practical and critical insight into health services in Ireland.

However, her comments on the planned patient experience survey reads like she is back in her role in the HSE’s Health Promotion Services (“Patient experience survey will help improve quality of hospital services”, Second Opinion, Health + Family, May 2nd).

While this is announced as the first national patient experience survey, Jacky Jones and the media reporting on this survey seem unaware of the National Listening Meetings organised by the HSE’s Mental Health Division in 2014.

A team from the Mental Health Division held open forums across the country, seeking the views of some 1,100 people who responded to an invitation to provide their views. Attendees were invited to give their views in an open, transparent and respectful manner in an unstructured format.

At the “listening meeting” I attended in Dublin, the attendees (patients and family members, also known as service users) gave an almost universally negative view of the mental health services.

It was staggering. I enquired from some of the Mental Health Division team members if this was consistent across the country. They said that it was.

This was cold comfort to myself and my wife whose experience as advocates and carers for a family member has been and continues to be a major struggle. We gave our views and also made a written submission to the team.

After this extensive nationwide “listening” exercise, the belated report finally captured some relevant soundbites and reassured us that: “The feedback from the listening meetings and participation by service users, family members and carers was and will continue to be important and helpful for the Mental Health Division. There was an acknowledgement (at the meetings) of good work within the Mental Health Services but also recognition that more can be achieved . . . We have reviewed the effectiveness of the listening meetings and have enhanced how we engage with service users, family members and carers”.

The lack of any specific actions in the report after this extensive exercise is damning.

Jacky Jones quotes the HSE line that “listening to patients and service users and encouraging feedback on how services are planned, delivered and evaluated is one of the core values of the HSE”.

She’ll pardon me if I don’t hold my breath on any action being taken from this latest survey. – Yours, etc,


Stillorgan, Co Dublin.