FORMER patients at Great Western Hospital are to be given the chance to have their say on the way health services are run.

Independent research agency The Picker Institute has posted questionnaires to 850 people who have recently used the hospital.

The survey has been designed to identify GWH’s strengths and weaknesses.

Feedback from the poll will then be used to help hospital bosses improve services.

Andrew Muir, foundation trust executive for GWH, said he wanted patients to be brutally honest.

“This is an independent survey going out as we speak,” he said.

“It isn’t something where we can manipulate the data to our advantage.

“If we aren’t told where we are doing well or where we need to do better, then improvements can’t be made, so it is important as many of the questionnaires are returned as possible.”

The questionnaires, which ask the former patients about the way they communicated with doctors and nurses and received tests and treatment, are expected to land on doormats in the next few days.

The surveys will also ask for opinions about the hospital’s environment.

Every NHS hospital trust in England is carrying out the same survey as part of a national programme led by the Care Quality Commission.

The Picker Institute sends out similar surveys on behalf of the CQC every two years.

The last survey identified concerns about hospital food, response times to patient call buttons and communication between doctors and families.

Mr Muir said: “These are all aspects we have worked hard on since the results of the survey identified a need to improve them.

“We regularly test hospital food and update menus, check that patients are happy with communication with their doctor and monitor waiting times for patients calling the nurses. I can’t stress enough the importance of completing and sending back your survey.

“If only a handful of 850 questionnaires are returned the data will be less reliable and valuable feedback will be lost.

“We want to serve the community at the highest level possible and our patient feedback is the best way we can achieve that.”