Patients happy with hospital care...but not the food

Hospital food was identified by the study as one of the main areas requiring improvement

Hospital patients in France are largely happy with the quality of healthcare they have received, but upset at the quality of food served in hospital, a new study suggests.

Health authority La Haute autorité de santé (HAS) revealed the results of its new study on hospital patient satisfaction on Tuesday (December 19), reports French news source 20 Minutes.

The study used anonymous questionnaires to ask over 120,000 patients - who had recently spent time in hospital - to rate the quality of their care overall, including factors such as the temperature of their bedrooms, how well staff listened to their needs, and the quality of their meals.

Although the majority appeared satisfied with most of their experience, certain aspects such as post-hospital follow-up care, parking availability, signage around hospitals, and the quality of food served in hospital, were identified as areas that could be improved.

Food was of notable interest, with just 58% of patients saying they were happy with it, with criticism focusing on the “less than attractive smell”, monotonous menus, and low-quality ingredients.

Less than half (48%) of patients said that they would rate their food as “good or excellent”, and almost one in four said it was “bad, and lacking in quality”.

“Hospital meals were judged to be the most unsatisfactory of our criteria for this study,” explained Dr. Laetitia May-Michangeli to 20 Minutes, as head of the quality and safety department at HAS.

In contrast to the low food scores, 78% were happy with the comfort of their room, and just 24% had any problems with the temperature - although overall bedroom satisfaction dropped considerably among patients who had to share bedrooms with another patient.

Of these, 40% said their bedroom did not feel calm or comfortable enough.

The report also focused on the quality of medical care received, with patients complaining that they did not feel they had been given enough information about their post-hospital care, or what symptoms and signs to look out for that might require them to get back in touch with the hospital.

And yet, almost 90% of patients said that they had been happy with the level of care received from their doctor or surgeon, and 80% were happy with factors such as how their pain had been managed. Slightly fewer - 70% - said they had been happy with how their care and options had been communicated to them.

With such varied points of interest, the study aimed to “join up” the thinking and cooperation between different departments within hospitals, and give an overall view of how happy patients are with their care.

Overall, satisfaction levels were at around 73.2% - an improvement compared to 2016 figures (72.7%).

“Patient satisfaction levels act as a powerful incentive in motivating healthcare professionals to change [and improve],” explains Christian Saout, a member of the HAS College, honorary president of AIDES, and former president of the patient association collective CISS, also speaking to 20 Minutes. “Healthcare is a public service that must live up to the satisfaction and expectations of those who benefit.”

The results of the study can be accessed online, and filtered by establishment, on the website Scope Santé.

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