Page last updated: 12 May 2022

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, CQC commissioned Ipsos MORI to collect information about the experiences of people who were admitted to hospital for inpatient care during March, April and May 2020. This was the height of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in England.

The results of this survey will support providers to plan for and improve future COVID-19 care. While the focus of the survey was on patients with COVID-19 (on admission or diagnosed during their stay), it also included patients in hospital for non-COVID related reasons.

The survey sits alongside the NHS Patient Survey Programme, which covers a range of topics including adult inpatient services, maternity care, children and young people’s inpatient and day-case services, urgent and emergency care and community mental health services. To find out more about the survey programme and to see the results from previous surveys, see the links in the further information section of Appendix D in the PDF version of this report.

All patients aged 16 years or over at the time of their hospital stay were eligible to take part if they were discharged between 1 April 2020 and 31 May 2020. A sample supplied by NHS Digital showed that 350,207 patients were discharged between 1 April and 31 May 2020, of which 12.6% had a COVID-19 diagnosis. A random sample of these patients was selected, with the aim of achieving equal spread across Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships/Integrated Care Systems (STPs/ICS). More people with a COVID-19 diagnosis were included to provide sufficient numbers for robust sub-group analysis.

Fieldwork took place between 14 August and 9 September 2020. In total, 10,336 people took part; 5,845 with a COVID-19 diagnosis and 4,491 who did not have the virus during their hospital stay. This represents an unadjusted response rate of 42%. Although a higher number of patients with COVID-19 took part in the survey, throughout this statistical release we have applied weighting to ‘all patients’ to ensure they reflect their true proportion in the population. More detail on the methodology is available in Appendix A in the PDF version of the report and in the survey technical report.

The survey collected basic demographic information from all people who took part. This anonymised data is available in the survey data tables.

Inpatient experience during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic: data tables

Where possible, the questions used the same wording as the forthcoming adult inpatient survey 2020. Appendix C in the PDF version of the report looks at comparisons with published inpatient survey data from 2019 and 2018, but as well as some differences in question wording, significant differences in the way these surveys have been conducted mean that these comparisons must be treated with caution.

This statistical release presents the key results from the 2020 survey of inpatient experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. It highlights statistically significant differences between patients who had COVID-19 and those without.

Inpatient experience during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic: results

The importance of collecting patient experience data

Patients and healthcare providers benefit when people have positive experiences of using health services. Good experiences of care have been linked to better health outcomes. At an organisational level, staff and patient experience are linked, as are patient experience and care costs. It is also important to ensure that patients and families are given an opportunity to feed into the system that has been set up to protect and care for them.

There are a number of factors that contribute to a person’s positive experience of care. The NHS Patient Experience Framework identifies some of these factors as being:

  • respect for patient-centred values, preferences and expressed needs, such as shared decision-making and cultural issues
  • welcoming the involvement of friends, family and those close to the patient
  • emotional support
  • access to care, with attention given to waiting times.

The NHS Constitution commits the NHS to encourage patients to give feedback on their care and experiences, with the view that this feedback should be used for the continuous improvement of services. The experiences of patients can provide key information about the quality of services provided across England. The Constitution highlights the important role of this information in encouraging improvements, both nationally and locally, among providers and commissioners of services.

The NHS outcomes framework (Domain 4) and the Department of Health and Social Care’s NHS Mandate for 2020/21 also recognise the importance of patient experience in delivering a high-quality service.

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The changing context of NHS care during the pandemic

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Summary of findings