What can you expect from a good hospital?

Page last updated: 2 June 2023

Finding out what good hospital care looks like can help you to make choices about your care. It can also help you understand what you should be able to expect from a service you already use.

When we inspect hospitals, there are five questions we ask.

In a good hospital, you can expect to be safe because…

There are always enough staff on duty with the right skills, knowledge and experience.

Staff keep checking any possible risks to your safety. For example, they look out for signs that your health could be getting worse and then take steps to improve it.

If something goes wrong with your care or treatment, the hospital investigates how it happened and why, you receive an apology, and the hospital tells you what it will do to improve and stop the same thing happening to other people.

Staff take particular care to make sure that children, young people and adults who may be vulnerable are kept safe from harm.

Staff ask for advice from their colleagues where necessary.

Your care records are complete and accurate, and they are stored securely to keep them confidential.

The hospital has plans for how to deal with emergencies and busy periods.

The hospital is clean and staff make sure that the risk of infection is as low as possible.

You can expect a good hospital to be effective because…

Staff understand what you need to keep you as healthy as possible. This includes making sure you have enough to eat and drink.

Staff have the right knowledge, qualifications, skills and experience to treat you in line with professional guidance.

Staff have access to the information they need to help them manage your care, such as your medical records, and they help you to understand your treatment.

You are always asked to give your consent (permission) to your care or treatment. Staff will support you to make decisions if you need them to.

Different teams work together to make sure your care is well co-ordinated.

The hospital compares its results with other hospitals and it compares well.

You can expect a good hospital to be caring because…

You are treated with dignity, kindness and respect and you feel that staff support and care about you.

You are involved in decisions about your care and staff spend time talking with you.

Your care, treatment and health condition are explained to you in a way that you can understand.

Staff are compassionate when you need help and think ahead to plan what you might need.

You have enough privacy.

Staff help you and those close to you to cope emotionally with your care and treatment, and they help you to keep in contact with your friends and family.

Staff help you to manage your own health and to stay as independent as possible.

You can expect a good hospital to be responsive to your needs because…

The hospital thinks about your individual needs when planning your care and treatment.

It makes adjustments where possible to take account of things such as your age, disability, sex (gender), gender identity, race, religion or belief, or sexuality (whether you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or heterosexual).

As far as possible, you are able to use services at a time to suit you.

The appointments system is easy for everyone to use.

The hospital tries to avoid long waiting times, delays and cancellations.

Staff tell you about any changes or disruptions that may affect your treatment.

It is easy for you to make a complaint or raise a concern. If you do, the hospital takes it seriously, responds quickly and makes any necessary improvements.

You can expect a good hospital to be well-led because…

Providing safe, high-quality, compassionate care is important to the people in charge at every level of the hospital.

The hospital is open about how well it is performing.

The hospital listens to your views and uses your feedback to improve the way it provides services.

The hospital encourages its staff to raise concerns and listens to what they have to say. Any concerns are investigated and acted on.