Shared decision making is at the core of person-centred care. It signifies an equality of ‘experts’, where the clinician is an expert on health, disease and treatments, and the person is an expert on themselves, their lives and the impacts of illness and treatments.
With a change to the national survey of general practice patients, we can now have a clearer look at people’s experience of involvement in decisions in the NHS.
At the suggestion of National Voices, the survey now uses a question that better tests whether people had the amount of involvement they wanted, and which is similar to those used in other national patient surveys, to allow comparison between settings.
For the 2018 survey people were asked:
“During your last general practice appointment, were you involved as much as you wanted to be in decisions about your care and treatment?”
Just under 629,000 people responded, of whom 60.9% answered ‘yes, definitely’.
Another 32.6% said ‘yes, to some extent’, leaving only 6.5% who gave a flat ‘no’.
It’s possible to put together the two ‘yes’ categories to claim that virtually everybody is happy. But National Voices always treats the ‘definitely’ category as the litmus test, since the ‘to some extent’ group may feel unsure about their involvement (or may not want to offend the practice).
For the first time we can see that general practice compares well to other general healthcare settings: