How to do an NHS patient survey



ways that are

easy for


NHS patient surveys


We looked at ways that were easy for patients rather than us and had a dramatic increase in response rates which helped us provide services that patients wanted. This has helped us share our research findings so others can improve the service they provide.


There needs to be a reason for patients to give feedback to the NHS. It has to be easy to do, and the impact of the feedback must be visible.


We explain why we’re asking the questions, and also share the results of the surveys with patients within 7 days. Consequently, for many of our surveys we’ve had around 2,000 responses in 3 days!

An essential tool

An NHS patient survey is an essential tool for healthcare providers. Hospitals and general practice have a duty to work with patients to get feedback on current services and in addition to consulting on new ones. So what is the best way to get meaningful feedback and what is the best way to do this?

How people want to engage in NHS patient survey

Recently, we decided to ask our patients how they wanted to engage with us. We had 388 responses to our survey over a 3 day period, with some really interesting results. 11% didn’t want to give feedback regularly, and another 10% only wanted to if there where evening or weekend patient meetings. However, the overwhelming majority DID want to give feedback, but only if it were easier for them to engage. Furthermore, 77% said they preferred online surveys.

Preferences on how people prefer to engage in nhs patient surveys.
How do patients prefer to engage?

It’s more than the method of engagement though…

Patients wanted the NHS patient survey to be easy for them to answer, by using, for example, just a couple of questions, they wanted to see the results and they wanted to know what happened as a result of their feedback. Without this, they were less likely to engage in the future.

Are incentives needed for an NHS patient survey?

The largest number, 25%, did not want any incentives for their feedback. They were happy to play their part and as a matter of fact 74% were happy to encourage others to do respond to patient surveys.

Are incentives needed for NHS patient surveys?

Accelerating patient engagement

As can be seen, we have had a lot of success with NHS patient surveys over the years. We design them to be super easy for patients to engage with, including just a few clicks, and importantly, we tell them about the impact that they have made after the survey.

Some of our recent surveys have had nearly 2,000 responses within 3 days and we always try to produce a video to share the results with our patients, together with how we plan to act on the results. We have to follow Royal College of Gps guidelines for sharing information on social media, but this is not too onerous. The factor that we had the opportunity to be a curator for the NHS twitter account, helped with our confidence.

Ultimate guide to patient engagement

Time needed: 7 days

  1. Analyse

    Firstly, look at a specific area in which you need input from your NHS Patient survey. Secondly, only ask questions where the input of patients will affect what you plan to do. Don’t ask questions where you have already decided what you want to do and need to go through a process or where you don’t have ability to act on the results. Look at data in the area – including activity, KPIs, staff and previous patient feedback. This process crystallises into 3 key short, clear, open questions which will aid decision-making.

  2. Act

    We formulate the 3 questions, and significantly the questions are contextualised using infographics and video. Our trials have demonstrated 10 times response rates at a fraction of the cost.

  3. Assess

    Data that comes back needs to be analysed. Free text is a valuable source of information so you can have qualitative and quantitative data to look at. For example, it may uncover a need that you haven’t thought of. Group these together in themes and analyse the themes.

  4. Share

    Make a short video with the results and feedback from patients and staff. Thank patients and ask them to keep an eye open for the next one. Don’t do too many surveys.

what works well for NHS patient surveys
what works well for NHS patient surveys

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