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COUNTY Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust received 18,583 compliments from patients and their carers during 2012/2013 - 3,820 more than for the previous year.

 The high number of positive comments, emails, letters and phone calls received by the trust is thought to have been helped by the work undertaken to proactively capture patient feedback which is then used to improve services. The number of complaints also fell, from 651 in 2011/2012, to 585 in 2012/2013.

 Jill Salkeld, the trust's Patient Experience Manager explained that ensuring patients receive the best possible experience is a priority, with a number of initiatives underway to ensure their feedback is listened to and acted upon.

 "We've been working hard across the trust to obtain feedback from patients and their carers, and then to ensure we are using the information they give us effectively, to improve treatment and services," Jill said.

 Initiatives have included staff conducting more than 3,000 face-to-face interviews with patients on wards across the trust's hospitals, obtaining views on all aspects of their treatment, such as medication, nurses, doctors, pain control, communication and consistency of care. Their comments and concerns were then fed back to staff on those wards, with results displayed on noticeboards, under the "you said, we did" banner.

 "The interviews we did on each ward showed us what the standards of care were, where best practice was and where improvements were needed," Jill said. "Feeding that information back to staff enabled us to show them what we do well and where we can improve."

 Action plans were also devised after twelve patients and carers who had experienced treatment and health services across the Trust were asked for their 'stories'. The action plans were shared with staff across the Trust, from commissioners and senior managers to staff on the front line, championing best practice and highlighting issues and concerns.

 A DVD was also made featuring patients who gave their feedback; this is now part of the induction training for student nurses, the aim being that all trust employees understand how important patient experience is.

 "The compliments we have recorded were all received separately to the work we did to gather patient feedback," Jill explained. "We hope that the work we have done over the last year has contributed to the number of compliments received, as well as the reduction in complaints. We won't stop here, though.

 "We will continue to work with patients to improve services. We want to provide them with the best possible experience and outcomes. If we fall short, we strive to turn complaints into contributions. We work with the patients and carers who tell us about issues they have come up against, so we can improve services for the benefit of all. It is so important that everyone who has experience of our services is given the opportunity to feedback their comments. "

 There are a range of ways people can provide feedback to County Durham and Darlington Foundation NHS Trust. When patients are discharged they receive a comment card to complete. These are collected each week from all wards and Emergency Departments.

 Patients and their carers can also contact the Trust on Freephone 0800 783 5774, email or complete an online comment card at: /patients-visitors/your-experience-counts

 County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust is one of the largest integrated care providers in England, serving a population of around 600,000 people across County Durham, Darlington, North Yorkshire, the Tees Valley and South Tyneside. The Trust brings together hospital, community services and health and wellbeing services to provide high quality and seamless care for patients.


'I am writing to congratulate you on your wonderful staff you have working for you at DMH.'

Patient, Catering / Porters / Domestics, Darlington Memorial Hospital