Paul Hodgkin, the Sheffield GP who founded Patient Opinion, has stepped down as the organisation’s chief executive.
Dr Hodgkin, who also writes a popular column for EHI on patient issues and the impact of social media on public policy and health, will continue to chair the organisation’s board and to lead on government and media relations.
However, the chief executive’s role has been taken on by Dr James Munro, who was formerly Patient Opinion’s director of research and information.
Dr Munro is a public health physician by background. He headed the University of Sheffield’s health services research group before joining Patient Opinion in 2006 to develop the organisation’s online feedback platform.
In a statement, Dr Hodgkin said: “Patient Opinion has established itself as a significant part of the UK’s health and social care landscape. Our work and impact is always the result of a team effort, and already owes an immense amount to James’ talent and energy.
“It will be a pleasure to support James and the team as they continue to develop and grow Patient Opinion’s innovative services in the turbulent mix of change and opportunity that is today’s NHS.”
Patient Opinion was founded in 2005 as a site on which patients could leave comments about their care and – crucially – have these passed on to the NHS organisations that could act on them. It was initially focused on Yorkshire, but steadily expanded to cover the whole of the NHS by June 2007.
In August 2008, it faced down the challenge posed by the establishment of NHS Choices, by “mashing up” its content with NHS Choices content released onto the Cabinet Office website to promote new uses of government information.
This enabled subscribers to receive reports from both organisations. In March 2012, it received government funding to become the official site for patient feedback on social care services.
And in March last year, Scotland announced that it would roll-out Patient Opinion to all of its health boards, following a pilot at the Scottish Ambulance Service.
Dr Munro argued that feedback and response services would become increasingly important in England as the NHS looked to respond to the new safety and quality agenda put in place in response to Mid Staffs and other scandals.
“Listening to patients and carers has never been more important in contributing to quality, safety and public trust in our health and social care services,” he said. “I’m excited, and a little awe-struck, to have the opportunity to lead Patient Opinion into its next phase.”
In October, it was announced that Patient Opinion and Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust had won the ‘best use of social media’ category of the EHI Awards 2013 in association with CGI.
The trust has embedded the Patient Opinion service in its ‘Your Feedback Matters’ site, and has trained staff in appropriate responses. At the time it won the award, it had received 833 postings about its services, 77 of which had resulted in a change in those services, according to its website.