Trust and confidence are key components of the clinician-patient relationship. There are many benefits that can accrue from a trusting relationship, including open communication of information, improved adherence to medical advice, improvement of health outcomes and better patient experience.
The national patient experience surveys ask service users whether they have confidence and trust in the doctors, nurses and other clinicians treating them.
A number of national patient surveys ask service users whether they have confidence and trust in clinicians. It is useful to compare people's responses to understand how patient experience varies across NHS services.
In 2019, 79% of Adult Inpatient Survey respondents stated that they always had confidence and trust in the doctors treating them. This compares to 72% of 2021 GP Patient Survey respondents, who said that they definitely had confidence and trust in the healthcare professional they last saw or spoke to.
84% of Maternity Services Survey respondents in 2019 reported that they definitely had confidence and trust in the staff who cared for them during their labour and birth. The Children and Young People’s Survey was answered by parents with children aged 15 and under who had been admitted to hospital; in 2019, 80% of them said that they always had confidence and trust in the members of staff treating their child. 76% of Urgent and Emergency Care Survey respondents who had attended type 1 departments in 2018 stated that they definitely had confidence and trust in the doctors and nurses examining and treating them, however 6% did not.
The differences in responses between the surveys may reflect the demographics of respondents, as well as their experience of services. For example, older people tend to respond more positively in surveys, and a higher proportion of inpatients are in older age groups compared with maternity service users. Additionally, while the most recent results for each survey are presented here, they were carried out in different time periods.
Adult Inpatient Survey respondents are asked, “Did you have confidence and trust in the doctors treating you?” Answers to this question have remained largely stable over time. From 2009 to 2019, the proportion of respondents who ‘always’ had confidence and trust in the doctors treating them remained between 77% and 80%, and those who did not have confidence and trust fluctuated at around 4%.
The survey also asks about confidence and trust in nurses. The proportion of respondents who ‘always’ had confidence and trust in the doctors treating them is consistently higher than the proportion who ‘always’ had confidence and trust in the nurses (data not shown).
The GP Patient Survey asks respondents “During your last general practice appointment, did you have confidence and trust in the healthcare professional you saw or spoke to?”. The proportion of patients who ‘definitely’ had confidence and trust in the healthcare professional they saw or spoke to decreased slightly from 69% in 2018 to 68% in 2020, then increased to 72% in 2021. The proportion who did not have confidence and trust remained constant at 4.4% between 2018 and 2021.
About this data
These indicators draw on data from the Adult Inpatient Survey, the GP Patient Survey, the Children and Young People's Survey, the Emergency Department Survey and the Maternity Services Survey.
For each Care Quality Commission survey, two weights have been applied to the survey results data:
- a trust weight to ensure that each trust contributes equally to the England average, and
- a population weight, to make sure each trust’s results are representative of their own sample and do not over-represent particular groups, such as older respondents.
A combination of the two weights results in one single weighting which has been applied to enable comparisons between years.
The GP Patient Survey data was weighted to adjust for the differences between all patients at a GP practice and the subset of patients who actually completed the questionnaire.
Fieldwork for the 2021 GP Patient Survey took place between 4 January and 6 April 2021. In 2020, fieldwork took place between 2 January and 6 April 2020. This means that some responses were collected after the Covid-19 outbreak began in England. Analysis was conducted to understand whether the pandemic had an impact on results. The analysis found that, as only 1.2% of responses were received after lockdown measures were implemented, the results of the survey and validity of comparisons with previous surveys were not impacted by the pandemic.
Note that data from the most recent survey publications have been used for comparison. Our comparison across NHS services does not adjust for differences in survey populations; therefore, the results may not be directly comparable.
For more information please see NHS England, National Patient and Staff Surveys.