Respect and dignity

The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 made it a statutory requirement that all service users must be treated with dignity and respect. It is also one of the key NHS values that is written in the NHS Constitution. This includes making sure that people have privacy when they need and want it, treating them as equals and providing any support they might need to be independent. The national patient surveys ask service users whether they felt that they were treated with respect and dignity.

How does the proportion of patients feeling they were treated with respect and dignity compare across NHS services?

A number of national patient surveys ask service users whether they felt they were treated with respect and dignity. It is useful to compare people's responses to understand how experience varies across NHS services.

Maternity Survey respondents were asked if they were treated with respect and dignity while they were being cared for during labour and birth. They responded the most favourably, with 88% of respondents saying that they were always treated with respect and dignity, and 2% saying that they were not. In contrast, only 72% of Community Mental Health Survey respondents said that overall they were always treated with respect and dignity by NHS mental health services in the last 12 months, and 8% of respondents said that they were not treated with respect and dignity.

85% of Children and Young People's Survey respondents (parents with children aged 15 and under who had been admitted to hospital) reported that they were always treated with respect and dignity by the people looking after their child. 82% of Adult Inpatient Survey respondents stated that overall they were always treated with respect and dignity while they were in hospital. 78% of Emergency Department Survey respondents said that they were treated with respect and dignity while they were in the emergency department all of the time, but worryingly 5% said that they were not.

The differences in responses between the surveys may reflect the demographics of respondents, as well as experience of services. For example, older people tend to respond more positively in surveys, and a higher proportion of inpatients are in older age groups compared with community mental health service users.

Updated June 2018.

Do adult inpatients feel they are treated with respect and dignity while in hospital?

Adult Inpatient Survey respondents are asked, "overall, did you feel you were treated with respect and dignity while you were in hospital?". The proportion of respondents who felt that they were 'always' treated with respect and dignity while they were in hospital has gradually increased over time, from 78% in 2009 to 82% in 2017. This was offset by a decrease in the proportion of respondents who felt that they were 'sometimes' treated respect and dignity. Meanwhile, the percentage of people who felt that they were not treated with respect and dignity remained between 3% and 4% over the same time period.

Updated June 2018.

Do mental health service users feel they are treated with respect and dignity?

Community Mental Health Survey respondents are asked, "overall, in the last 12 months, did you feel that you were treated with respect and dignity by NHS mental health services?". Between 2014 and 2017, the proportion of respondents who felt they were 'definitely' treated with respect and dignity decreased by 2%, and the proportion who felt they were not treated with respect and dignity increased by 1%. Note that the question was reworded in 2014, so the results are not comparable with previous surveys.

Updated October 2018.

About this data

These indicators draw on data from the Adult Inpatient Survey, the Children and Young People's Survey, the Emergency Department Survey, the Maternity Survey and the Community Mental Health Survey.

For each CQC survey, two weights were applied to the survey results data: a trust weight to ensure that each trust contributes equally to the England average, and a population weight, to make sure each trusts results are representative of their own sample and do not over represent groups such as older respondents. A combination of the two weights resulted in one single weighting which was applied to enable comparisons between years.

Note that data from the most recent survey publications were used for comparison. Our comparison across NHS services did not adjust for differences in survey populations; therefore, the results may not be directly comparable.

For more information please see NHS England, National Patient and Staff Surveys.

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