Confidence and trust in clinicians

We look at how confidence and trust in clinicians has changed over time.

Indicator

Last updated: 25/11/2021

Patient experience
Primary and community care Hospital care Emergency care Children and young people

Background

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.


How does patients' confidence and trust in clinicians compare across NHS services? 25/11/2021

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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 2020, 84% 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 saw or spoke to during their last appointment.

84% of Maternity Services Survey respondents in 2019 reported that they definitely had confidence and trust in the staff caring 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. 77% of the 2020 Urgent and Emergency Care Survey respondents who had attended a type 1 department said that they definitely had confidence and trust in the doctors and nurses examining and treating them, however 5% 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.


How has inpatients’ confidence and trust in the doctors treating them changed over time? 25/11/2021

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Adult Inpatient Survey respondents are asked, “Did you have confidence and trust in the doctors treating you?” Between 2009 and 2019, answers to this question remained largely stable. 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%.

In 2020, 84% of respondents ‘always’ had confidence and trust in the doctors treating them, but 2% did not. These results are not comparable with previous years due to changes in the 2020 survey. See ‘About this data’ for more information.

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 slightly higher than the proportion who ‘always’ had confidence and trust in the nurses treating them (data not shown).


How has patients’ confidence and trust in healthcare professionals in general practice changed over time? 23/09/2021

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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:

  • trust weight to ensure that each trust contributes equally to the England average, and 
  • 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. 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.

For the 2020 Adult Inpatient Survey, participants were offered the choice of responding online or via paper-based questionnaires for the first time, and questions, terminology and methodology used in the survey were updated. Therefore, the 2020 survey results are not comparable with previous years.

Note that data from the most recent survey publications were used for comparison. Our comparison across NHS services did 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.

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