Ireland’s first ever national survey of patients’ experience in hospital launched

Date of publication:

The first ever National Patient Experience Survey has been launched this morning by Minister for Health Simon Harris TD at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital. This survey, which is the first of its kind in Ireland gives patients an opportunity to describe their experiences in order for this information to be used to improve our health service.

Commencing on 1 May 2017, all adult patients who are discharged from a public acute hospital during this month will be invited to participate in the survey. Up to 27,000 patients will be eligible to take part, making this the largest single survey of the healthcare system in Ireland. Patients will be asked 61 questions on topics such as confidence and trust in hospital staff, hospital food, care and treatment, and whether their medications and possible side-effects were explained before discharge from hospital.

A joint initiative by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Department of Health, the National Patient Experience Survey Programme will use data collected from the survey to shape future healthcare policy and improve outcomes for patients. It will be a key building block in the creation of a strong patient safety culture in our health service.

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Health Simon Harris TD said: “I am delighted to welcome this significant new patient safety innovation to our healthcare service. This joined-up approach between my Department, the HSE and HIQA is a concrete sign of the commitment all of us – policy makers, service providers and regulators – have to improving the quality and the safety of our health services for patients. This survey will identify areas for improvement providing a direct focus for changes required. I am also confident that through this survey we will discover many examples of good practice which can be shared across the country. Capturing these important messages is vital for patients, hospital managers and not least for the staff providing the care in our hospitals.  My Department is fully committed to patient safety and to this end I launched a new National Patient Safety Office last year which has already commenced a programme of patient safety policy and legislation”, the Minister concluded.

Commenting on the launch of this initiative, Sheila O’Connor, of the national patient advocacy organisation Patient Focus said: “Patient Focus welcomes the National Patient Experience Survey. The experiences of patients are crucial to the evaluation of the service provided by our hospitals. For too long patients’ voices have not been consistently heard. This initiative is a first, but important part of the solution. By means of this survey, patients can tell of their own personal experiences so that their voices can begin to be heard and listened to.”

Tony O’Brien, Director General of the HSE said: “The HSE, welcomes this significant and very important survey programme, which will provide the organisation with robust, evidence based information about patient experience across acute hospital services in Ireland. The survey is part of a grass-roots, led approach to quality improvement. We want to drive quality across the system by listening to the experiences of patients, finding out what is working and what needs to be improved upon. The findings of the survey will be used to identify areas of priority and programmes for improvement. Acute hospital services will be working in partnership with patients to identify solutions for the issues identified in the survey, the HSE will publish the agreed Quality Improvement plans in response to the findings, to demonstrate how we are listening and responding to patient feedback.

Rachel Flynn, HIQA’s Director of Health Information and Standards and Programme Director for the National Patient Experience Survey said: “As the regulator of health and social care services in Ireland and the body responsible for setting standards for these services, HIQA is delighted to lead on the delivery of this survey. Patient experience surveys help to identify not only areas for improvement, but also examples of best practice. By listening to the experience and feedback of patients who complete this survey, we can enhance the quality and safety of care provided to patients in Ireland.”

Evidence from other countries suggests that learning from the experience of patients is the best way to improve health outcomes. Patients become engaged, active and informed about their care. Service providers benefit as areas for improving patient care in individual units are identified, assurance in the quality of care is provided, and care can be benchmarked.

All survey responses will be combined to produce a national report on patients’ experience, as well as hospital group reports to improve the planning and delivery of our health service.

Further information about the survey can be found at


For further information please contact:
Marty Whelan, Head of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement
(01) 8147480 / 086 2447623

Notes to the Editor

  • Adult patients who spend a minimum of one night in a public acute hospital, are discharged in May 2017 and have a postal address in the Republic of Ireland are eligible to participate in the survey.
  • Patients will receive the survey by post a few weeks after discharge, and can complete the form via post or online.
  • Other services, such as maternity and mental health, may be included in future surveys.
  • This survey is informed by patient experience surveys conducted in other countries, such as Denmark, England and New Zealand.
  • The National Patient Safety Office (NPSO) launched by the Minister for Health in December 2016 is located within the Department of Health. This Office is leading a programme of patient safety legislation (open disclosure, hospital licensing, mandatory reporting of serious events); extending the clinical effectiveness agenda; developing a patient complaints and patient advocacy policy, publishing the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System and patient safety policy development.