Evaluation of the NHS Patient Feedback Challenge


The Department of Health funded the £1 million NHS Patient Feedback Challenge to support the spread and adoption of innovative approaches to involving patients and carers, capturing their feedback and using this to inform service improvements. NHS organisations submitted applications to take part in the programme, and nine projects were funded across England, all adopting different approaches and forming partnerships with other NHS, social care and commercial organisations.

The NHS Institute wanted to learn about the various approaches to adoption and spread employed by the nine projects – what worked, in what circumstances, and for whom? They also wanted to capture evidence of the impacts emerging, including those generated within programme timescales as well as longer term anticipated outcomes, and assess the extent to which the programme offered value for money.

What we did

  • We observed key programme meetings and events, including ‘Hot House’ programme start up events, steering group and operations group meetings;
  • We carried out three waves of fieldwork with the nine funded projects, interviewing NHS leads, specialist collaborators from private industry or the healthcare sector, and ‘spread partners’ from other NHS or social care organisations who adopted the approach in their organisation;
  • We reviewed programme and project documentation, including funding applications, monitoring reports and marketing materials;
  • We carried out analysis of activity on the NHS Patient Feedback Challenge web channel, a dedicated website enabling anyone interested in the programme or the funded projects to find out more about activities and have their say;
  • We adopted a Realistic approach to the evaluation, focusing on the contexts and mechanisms of the nine projects, generating learning about the outcomes subsequently achieved for patients and NHS organisations. We also developed recommendations for others seeking to adopt the approaches in their health or social care settings; and
  • We produced an overarching evaluation report with a stand-alone executive summary. We also worked with our design agency partner Effusion to produce individual case studies about each funded project, and developed a brochure showcasing the activities and achievements of the NHS Patient Feedback Challenge.


As a result of emerging insights from the evaluation, the NHS Institute commissioned a series of evaluation webinars, to support project leads to develop their own plans for monitoring the impacts arising. This included an introduction to economic assessment, helping project leads to assess the financial impact of their initiatives.

The NHS Institute was able to use the evaluation report to make recommendations for future work in this area.

The case studies and brochure will be used to encourage others to adopt the approaches embedded in the project sites, and to foster further linkages between NHS organisations and others with an interest in health and social care.