In July 2004 YouGov started recruiting a panel of senior healthcare managers and clinicians throughout the United Kingdom on behalf of The Health Foundation. This is a report of YouGov’s first survey, conducted online between 11 and 23 August 2004 among 513 members of the panel.

Summary of key findings

  • Just over half of the UK’s healthcare leaders think the quality of care that their organisation provides to patients has improved over the past year – but only one in ten think they will have sufficient funds to improve and/or expand the service they provide in the current financial year.
  • 72% of healthcare leaders, and 68% of the general public, think that 'there are some good things in our healthcare system, but fundamental changes are needed to make it work better'.
  • Patient safety is seen as a serious problem for the health service. A large majority of healthcare leaders correctly estimate that more than one in ten hospital inpatients suffer a preventable 'adverse event'. 
  • Healthcare leaders divide evenly as to whether human error or system error is the greater cause of patient safety incidents in their own organisations. However clinicians within the sample divide two-to-one in saying that system error is the main factor.
  • Asked to say how patient safety can best be improved, the three most beneficial measures are considered to be: An organisational culture that encourages reporting and avoids blame; More emphasis on infection control, including hand-washing; Better communication between staff and patients.
  • Most clinicians consider that records of patient safety incidents should be kept confidential within the community of health organisations. Non-clinical managers divide evenly between this view and the belief that the information should be shared in some form with the general public.
  • Most clinicians say that patients and their families should be told when there has been a breakdown of patient safety as part of their care, if they have suffered harm. Most non-clinical managers say patients should be told, even if they have suffered no harm.