Is the NHS becoming more person-centred?

Date Reviewed:

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This overview examines how the NHS in England has performed during the last parliament in relation to indicators that reflect person-centred care. It considers progress made against a range of measures including: dignity, respect and compassion; patient involvement in decisions; support for self-management and care planning.

It sets out a definition of person-centred care and some of the key activities, such as personalised care and support planning, self-management support and shared decision making that can ensure that services reliably deliver the person-centred care and support principles.

The overview finds that:

  • Successive governments, since at least 2000, have made a commitment to person-centred care. The serious failings in care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust and the current government’s early commitment to the principle of ‘no decision about me without me’ have underpinned the focus on person-centred aspects of care during this parliament.
  • National measurement of person-centred care is conducted through NHS surveys. These surveys give an indication of how the NHS is performing in some areas, such as treating patients with dignity and respect. However, in others, such as coordination of care, there are very few national measures to draw on, so we do not know how well health and care services are performing.
  • While there are signs of improvement in some areas of person-centred care, in many others there has been no real improvement over the last five years. For example, the percentage of patients who reported that a nurse spoke in front of them as if they were not there has reduced but there has been no change in the 16 percent of patients who say they are not involved in decisions about their discharge from hospital.
  • In some key areas, there remains a large gap between the ambition to have a health service that is person-centred and the reality of patients’ experience. Only 5% of people with a long-term condition have a written care plan and almost 20% of inpatients say they are not always treated with dignity and respect.

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