The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 made it a statutory requirement that all service users must be treated with dignity and respect. It is also one of the key NHS values that is written into the NHS Constitution. This includes making sure that people have privacy when they need and want it, treating them as equals and providing any support they might need to be independent. The national patient surveys ask service users whether they felt they were treated with respect and dignity, the responses to which we explore here.
Several national patient surveys ask service users whether they felt that they were treated with respect and dignity. It is useful to compare people's responses to understand how experience varies across NHS services.
90% of 2020 Children and Young People's Survey respondents (parents or carers of children aged 0–15 who had been admitted to hospital) reported that they were ‘always’ treated with respect and dignity by the people looking after their child. Their responses were the most favourable, closely followed by the 2022 Cancer Patient Experience Survey respondents who had been admitted to hospital overnight for cancer care in the past 12 months (88%). 85% of 2022 Maternity Services Survey respondents stated that they were always treated with respect and dignity while they were being cared for during labour and birth. 82% of 2022 Adult Inpatient Survey respondents stated that overall, they were ‘always’ treated with respect and dignity while they were in hospital.
The services with some of the least positive responses were urgent and emergency care and mental healthcare. 72% of 2022 Urgent and Emergency Care Survey respondents said they were treated with respect and dignity ‘all of the time’ that they were in A&E. Meanwhile, only 69% of 2022 Community Mental Health Survey respondents said that, overall, they were ‘always’ treated with respect and dignity by NHS mental health services in the last 12 months, and 10% said they were not.
The differences in responses between the surveys may reflect the demographics of respondents, as well as 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 community mental health service users. Additionally, while the most recent results for each survey are presented here, they were carried out at different times (fieldwork for the Children and Young People’s Survey was carried out before the pandemic, while for the others it was carried out during or after the pandemic).
Adult Inpatient Survey respondents were asked, ‘Overall, did you feel you were treated with respect and dignity while you were in the hospital?’ The proportion of respondents who felt they were ‘always’ treated with respect and dignity increased slightly over time, from 78% in 2009 to 81% in 2019. Those who felt they were not treated with respect and dignity decreased very slightly from 3.5% to 3% over the same period.
In 2020, 85% of respondents felt they were ‘always’ treated with respect and dignity while they were in the hospital, which decreased slightly to 82% in 2022. The proportion of those who felt that they were not treated with respect and dignity rose slightly from 1.9% in 2020 to 2.4% in 2022. These results are not comparable with previous years due to changes in the 2020 survey. See ‘About this data’ for more information.
2022 Community Mental Health Survey respondents were asked, ‘Overall, in the last 12 months, did you feel that you were treated with respect and dignity by NHS mental health services?’ Between 2014 and 2022, the proportion of respondents who felt that they were ‘always’ treated with respect and dignity decreased from 74% to 69%. The proportion who felt that they were not treated with respect and dignity increased from 7% to 10% over the same period.
About this data
These indicators draw on data from the Adult Inpatient Survey, the Children and Young People's Survey, the Urgent and Emergency Care Survey, the Maternity Services Survey, the Community Mental Health Survey and the Cancer Patient Experience 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.
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 the 2020 Adult Inpatient Survey, participants were offered the choice of responding online or via paper-based questionnaires for the first time, and the questions, terminology and methodology used in the survey were updated. Therefore, the 2020 survey results are not comparable with previous years.
For the 2022 Community Mental Health Survey, people were eligible if they received treatment for a mental health condition between September 2021 and November 2021. Fieldwork took place between February and June 2022.
For more information please see NHS England, National Patient and Staff Surveys.