Background: In addition to studying the outcomes of surgery in terms of mortality and morbidity rates and performance, it is also important to consider how patients perceive the delivery of the service given to them.
Methods: A patient satisfaction survey was carried out by the Surgical Epidemiology and Audit Unit of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, on patients undergoing surgical procedures by the Department of Surgery at Wrexham Maelor Hospital. No day cases were included in the study. Two hospitals in southern England (undergoing the same survey) designated X and Y were used for comparison.
Results: Some 2000 questionnaires were sent out twice; 1666 subjects (83 per cent) responded to the first questionnaire and 1445 (87 per cent) of these responded to a second questionnaire 6 weeks later (overall response 72 per cent). A total of 35 per cent of patients were older than 65 years of age. Some 76 per cent of patients with a malignant condition were seen within 4 weeks of referral compared with 38 per cent of those with a benign condition (P < 0.0001). A total of 78 per cent of patients with cancer were admitted within 4 weeks compared with 84 and 88 per cent in hospitals X and Y. Some 23 per cent of patients were admitted as an emergency. Eighteen per cent of patients did not know who presented a consent form to them before surgery compared with 13 and 17 per cent in hospitals X and Y (P < 0.0001). Some 26 per cent of patients perceived that they had complications after surgery compared with 27 and 25 per cent for hospitals X and Y. A total of 35 per cent of patients did not receive a follow-up appointment and 20 per cent of these patients were unhappy about this. Two areas of major concern revealed by the responses were the lack of written information and the overall poor scores generally attained by the emergency admission ward. However, 94 per cent of patients said that they would return to the same consultant.
Conclusion: Patients were generally happy with their surgical care and there was little difference between the three hospitals studied. Lower scores were given when patients were admitted to emergency admission wards. Higher scores were given when patients received printed information.