Adult inpatient survey 2020

Page last updated: 12 May 2022

This survey looks at the experiences of people who stayed at least one night in hospital as an inpatient.

This year, for the first time, participants of the survey were offered the choice of responding online or via paper-based questionnaires. With support from key stakeholders, CQC took the opportunity to review and update the questions, terminology and methodology used in the survey. The sampling month also moved from July to November. As a result, the 2020 survey results are not comparable to previous years

What we found

The results show that, generally, people’s experiences of inpatient care were positive and overall differences between COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients were small, suggesting that care provided was consistent. Most people said they were treated with respect and dignity, had confidence and trust in the doctors and nurses that treated them and observed high levels of cleanliness.

Survey findings were less positive, however, for areas of care including people’s experiences of receiving emotional support, information sharing and hospital discharge.

Positive results

Overall experiences

  • 40% of patients rated their overall hospital experience as ‘10 out of 10’
  • 85% of patients said they were ‘always’ treated with respect and dignity

Interactions with doctors and nurses

  • Most patients (75% for doctors, and 77% for nurses) understood the answers to their questions all of the time
  • Similarly, 74% of people felt included in conversations with their doctors about their care, as did 77% of people with nurses
  • Most patients (84% for doctors and 83% for nurses) had confidence and trust in the doctors and nurses treating them


  • Almost all people (98%) in the survey experienced good levels of cleanliness in their hospital room or ward
  • 92% of patients were also able to receive the help they needed from staff to keep themselves clean

Key areas for improvement

Patient discharge from hospital

  • Before they left hospital, 30% of people were not given any written information about what they should or should not do after leaving hospital
  • 23% of people did not feel staff involved them in decisions around them leaving hospital
  • 21% did not have their family or home situation taken into account when staff planned for their discharge
  • Some people who required medicine after their inpatient stay did not receive thorough explanations about it. Only 28% were told about the side effects, 55% were given an explanation of how to take it, 48% received written information and 12% of people received no information at all
  • After leaving hospital, 21% of people said they did not get enough support needed from health and social care services to help them recover or manage their condition

Collecting patient feedback

  • Only 13% of people were asked to give their views on the quality of their care

How experience varies for different groups of people

Patient experiences varied according to certain characteristics. For example, people aged 16 to 35 and 36 to 50 consistently reported poorer than average experiences. People admitted for emergency care and those receiving medical treatment were also more negative. People who were considered frail had a poorer experience across all themes. In contrast, older people, people who were in hospital for an elective admission, and people who stayed in hospital for only one night generally reported better experiences.

Results for NHS trusts

Each trust has been provided with a benchmark report, which provides: detail of the survey methodology, headline results, the trust score for each evaluative question, banding for how a trust score compares with all other trusts. New this year the reports also provide results at hospital site where data is available.


Adult inpatient survey 2020: Statistical release

Adult inpatient survey 2020: Trust outliers

Open data

Adult inpatient survey 2020: National tables

Adult inpatient survey 2020: Trust level benchmark data

Adult inpatient survey 2020: Site level benchmark data

Supporting information

Adult inpatient survey 2020: Quality and methodology report

Adult inpatient survey 2020: Technical document

Adult inpatient survey 2020: Pre-release access list

How will results be used?

We will use the results from the survey in the regulation, monitoring and inspection of NHS trusts. Survey data will be used to help us assess how trusts are performing. Survey data will also form a key source of evidence to support the judgements and inspection ratings published for trusts.

Other organisations

NHS trusts

Trusts and commissioners are expected to take action to improve services based on the results.

NHS England and NHS Improvement; and the Department for Health and Social Care

Information collected nationally in a consistent way is essential to support public and Parliamentary accountability. The results are used by NHS England and NHS Improvement; and the Department of Health and Social Care for performance assessment, improvement and regulatory purposes.

National Patient Experience Surveys

Find out more about our other surveys and download our statistics policies.