Openness in the NHS: a secondary longitudinal analysis of national staff and patient surveys


BACKGROUND: Improving openness-including candour when things go wrong, and willingness to learn from mistakes-is increasingly seen as a priority in many healthcare systems. This study explores perceptions of openness in England before and after the publication of the Francis report (2013), which examined failings of openness at one English hospital. We examine whether staff and patients' views on openness, and experiences of giving voice to concerns, have changed since the report's publication for better or worse. METHODS: Organisational-level data was collated for all trusts from the NHS National Staff Survey (2007-2017), NHS Acute Inpatient Survey (2004-2016) and NHS Community Mental Health Service User Survey (2007-2017). Survey items related to openness were identified and longitudinal statistical analysis conducted (piecewise growth curve and interrupted latent growth curve analysis) to determine whether there was evidence of a shift in the rate or direction of change following publication of the Francis report. RESULTS: For some variables there was a discernible change in trajectory after the publication of the Francis report. Staff survey variables continued to rise after 2013, with a statistically significant increase in rate for "fairness and effectiveness of incident reporting procedures" (from + 0.02 to + 0.06 per year; p < .001). For the patient surveys, the picture was more mixed: patient views about information provided by accident and emergency staff rose from a 0.3% increase per year before 2013 to 0.8% per year afterwards (p < .01), and inpatients being involved in decision making increased from a 0.4% rise per year before 2013 to 0.8% per year afterwards (p < .01); however, there were not rises in the other questions. Mental health patients reported a decrease after 2013 in being listened to (decreasing at a rate of 1.9% per year, p < .001). CONCLUSIONS: Data suggest that the Francis inquiry may have had a positive impact on staff and acute inpatients' perceptions and experiences of openness in the NHS. However such improvements have not transpired in mental health. How best to create an environment in which patients can discuss their care and raise concerns openly in mental health settings may require further consideration.

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Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School > Aston India Centre for Applied Research
Additional Information: © The Author(s). 2020 Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Delivery of health care,Longitudinal studies,Patient safety,Patient satisfaction,Quality of health care,Health Policy
Publication ISSN: 1472-6963
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2024 07:30
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2020 11:46
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Related URLs: https://bmcheal ... 913-020-05743-z (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2020-09-25
Accepted Date: 2020-09-17
Authors: McCarthy, Imelda (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-4715-9831)
Dawson, Jeremy
Martin, Graham



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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