Our report on Patient Advice & Liaison Services (PALS) in Birmingham is out now

January 14, 2020

Getting the help you need – How Patient Advice & Liaison Services (PALS) are supporting patients in Birmingham

Healthwatch Birmingham’s report highlights the importance of NHS Trusts PALS for involving patients in decisions about their care and as a means for Trusts to improve the patient experience.

We heard from patients, and their carers, from about their contact with NHS Trusts PALS departments in Birmingham. Inconsistencies in services meant experiences were varied, but people told us that they value a personalised, inclusive service that is responsive to individual needs.

Read the full report

What do patients value?

People said they want:

  • PALS to be better understood and more accessible for patients, carers and families.
  • Better communications and information, particularly keeping people updated on their enquiries
  • Better staffing and opening hours
  • PALS to be more consistent and proactive in following up enquiries, and impartial when dealing with complaints
  • Better staff attitudes and understanding of health conditions, especially autism and similar conditions
  • PALS to involve more service users to give them more influence to make changes in NHS Trust

Improving people’s experiences of PALS

Following our investigation, Healthwatch Birmingham has asked NHS Trusts to develop actions to:

  • address issues that led to dissatisfaction amongst those who contacted PALS
  • address issues that need to be improved to make PALS more effective
  • design a process that ensures Trusts are hearing more feedback and are using it  to improve both the patient experience and PALS systems

All seven NHS hospital and community Trusts in Birmingham have responded and outlined the actions they intend to take.

Alison Last, Associate Director of Patient Experience and Freedom to Speak Up Guardian at Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said:  “The Trust welcomes the Healthwatch Birmingham draft report following feedback from patients and carers on experiences of contacting PALS services in Birmingham.  The report is very timely, as we are about to review and update our current Advice and Liaison Service (Customer Service) Working Guidelines.  The feedback has been very useful to us in reflecting on how our service is doing and where we can make improvements.”

Marion Harris, Chief Nurse at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust said: “Thank you for the recent PALS service report which we received. We are keen to offer an efficient and responsive PALS service so we were pleased to have the opportunity to reflect on the current ways of working and consider how we could improve. We are keen to learn from the report and especially from how our fellow PALS services operate locally. In reviewing the report we are seeking to introduce the following measures in the coming months (see report).”

Mandy Green (Corporate Nursing) Head of Patient Experience at University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust said: “University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (the Trust) welcomes Healthwatch Birmingham’s report into patient views on the quality of the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) and their experiences of using this service. The Trust is pleased to see that most patients, carers, and families were satisfied with their experience of the PALS service overall and that the service is valued by all individuals who contact the service. The Trust understands the importance and the value that survey respondents and the wider public have in the PALS service and is committed to ensuring that the service is appropriately resourced to ensure it can manage all concerns received quickly, effectively and with the sensitivity required.”

Caroline Burgin, Head of Complaints at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust said: “The Trust will use the feedback in this report to make improvements to PALS/Customer Services in several areas. We plan to trial the use of Purple Point resolution method in our PALS service during 2020 to improve our timeliness and responsiveness to provide a faster service for patients and relatives.”

Christian Ward, Interim Deputy Director of Nursing at The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust said: “We have reviewed the report and will be including this as an agenda item within our Patient Experience and Engagement Group, following this feedback our Patient Engagement Team will then provide a responsive action plan to address the issues raised. This will then be disseminated within the organisation via Trust Committees. We are very grateful to Healthwatch Birmingham for their insightful report and will be using it to support changes and improvements to our PALS service.”

Marie Capper, Head of Patient Experience at West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust (WMAS) said: “West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust (WMAS welcomes the feedback provided by patients, carers, and members of the public in Birmingham and the report drafted by Healthwatch Birmingham. As a result of the report the ambulance service will be reviewing seven key points (see report).”

Shane Darby, Customer Relations Lead at Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust said: “Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (BSMHFT) welcomes the Healthwatch Birmingham draft report following feedback from patients and carers on experiences of contacting PALS services in Birmingham. Thank you for this feedback, this has been very useful to us in reflecting on how our Trust is doing and where we can identify improvements for our service users, carers and families.”

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