Patient focus

This section introduces the patient focus theme. Resources to support this theme are: 


Lord Darzi’s report ‘High quality care for all’ recognised patient experience as a key component of high-quality care (Department of Health, 2008a). As well as providing clinically safe and effective care, the NHS must also ensure improving patients’ experience of care is also a priority. ‘It is about the patient’s entire experience of the NHS and ensuring they are treated with compassion, dignity and respect in a clean, safe and well-managed environment’ (Department of Health, 2008b).

The coalition Government’s long-term vision for the future of the NHS, set out in the White Paper ‘Equality and excellence; Liberating the NHS’ (Department of Health, 2010) signalled a major restructuring of the NHS. Key features of the plans include putting patients at the centre of care and strengthening the public and patient voice. Nurses are ideally placed to contribute at all levels of this agenda - at a policy level, at the level of local communities and at the level of individual practice.

Person-centred care is also at the heart of NHS Scotland’s Quality Strategy. As well as being safe and effective, care must be person-centred. Mutually beneficial partnerships between patients, their families and those delivering health care services must respect individual needs and values and demonstrate compassion, continuity, clear communication and shared decision-making, (NHS Scotland, 2010).

Improving the patient' experience of health care is also the central purpose of clinical governance. Good care means:

  • getting good treatment - high quality, safe and effective treatment delivered by capable teams.
  • being treated as a person - with respect, honesty and dignity (Royal College of Nursing 2008, 2010)
  • being safe and comfortable - confidence in the care environment
  • being informed and having a say in the care they receive.

These things should be present at every point of contact with health services. The journey includes health awareness, access to care, continuity of care and support for patients, families and carers. However, people can face additional challenges. For example, people whose first language is not English can have problems with information and accessing care. So equity, diversity and choice issues influence the patient experience as well.

There are clear links between this section of the clinical governance resource and the RCN Principles of Nursing Practice, launched in 2010. The Principles set out what patients, colleagues, families and carers can expect from nursing. Principle D encompasses themes of advocacy, empowerment, patient-centred care, and patient involvement in their care. For further information, see Principle D.


Department of Health (2008a) High quality care for all: NHS Next Stage Review final report. London: DH.
Department of Health (2008b) High quality care for all. Department of Health website.
Department of Health (2010) Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS. London: DH.
Department of Health (2003) Building on the best: choice, responsiveness and equity in the NHS. London: DH.
Scottish Government (2010) The Healthcare Quality Strategy for NHSScotland. Scotland: Scottish Government.
Royal College of Nursing (2008) 'Dignity: at the heart of everything we do' campaign. RCN website.
Royal College of Nursing (2010) Principles of Nursing Practice. RCN website.