The Malteser audit

The papers are full this morning with the story of the NHS trust which has asked nurses to count the number of gifts they receive to assess patient satisfaction. Or, as Metro neatly summarises it this morning, ‘Malteser audit fury’ (or something).

Now obviously the story does have an air of nonsense about it…even if, reading between the lines, it sounds like this is a pretty informal count-up, with no form-filling to take away from patient time. Indeed, the BBC article above says that a Devon hospital has been doing this for a while. But is it so absurd to want to count the compliments as well as the complaints?

Interesting because, during our most recent evaluation workshop with the New Economics Foundation, we discussed the need to choose the right ‘indicators’. One example of what might NOT be a good indicator is waiting lists….as it only measures one aspect of delivering healthcare. It could be one indicator in a suite (what is the collective noun?) of indicators, but there is a problem that it has become so central to how progress with regard to the NHS is judged. Waiting lists could be non-existent but the quality of healthcare might be dreadful.

And if you follow that thinking through, and think about what might indicate a good quality of healthcare, maybe the ‘Malteser audit’ isn’t as silly as it sounds. Nurses being given gifts could, at least, be an indicator of how well the nurses are doing their job…if of limited use.

Shame the papers paid rather less attention to the axing of 12 NHS Direct call centres and the loss of 1,000 jobs. Although NHS Direct has probably been, on the face of it, a successful social innovation, though whether one of the top 10 of the last century, I’m unsure….

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