Skip to content

Seeing the person in the patient

Jocelyn Cornwell and Joanna Goodrich 03 December 2008 Evidence

The report introduces current debates and dilemmas in relation to patients’ experience of care in hospital, presents our view of the factors that shape that experience, and assesses the evidence to support various interventions that are designed to tackle the problems.

Topics and programmes


This report is intended primarily for hospital board members, clinicians and managers in hospitals. We hope that it will contribute to and provide support for their continuous efforts to improve patients’ experience, and that it will also be of interest to patients and their representatives, commissioners and policy-makers.

The purpose of the report is to consider how we can improve the patients’ experience of care. The report introduces current debates and dilemmas in relation to patients’ experience of care in hospital, presents our view of the factors that shape that experience, and assesses the evidence to support various interventions that are designed to tackle the problems.

To inform this report, and the development of The Point of Care programme, we reviewed the research literature; undertook our own qualitative research with staff, patients and families; and commissioned a small qualitative study with a cross-section of hospital and trust staff and board members in four English trusts (see Appendix A, pp 45–49, for details).

Throughout this report we use the terms health professional and clinician to cover all the professions, including allied health therapists. The intention is to be inclusive: where it affects the meaning we have been careful to distinguish between health professionals and support staff. However, we believe that what is said is relevant to all health care staff, and the paper should be read with this in mind.

The experience of a patient’s loved ones, family and friends, also plays a significant part in the patient’s own well-being and is important in its own right. Where we refer to patients and their experience, we are therefore including patients’ relatives and friends in our discussion.

We are aware that there is much good practice (and literature) in fields we have not covered – in mental health and children’s services for example – but the scope of The Point of Care programme is currently confined to adult patients’ experience in acute hospitals. We hope in the future to extend the programme to other areas of health care.

Visit the resource