Hunt is on for new NHS spies
A PROGRAMME sending patients to spy on health services in North Staffordshire is to target more ethnic minority volunteers.
The so-called Mystery Shopper scheme has been running across the region's NHS for a year.
But only one member of the black and Asian community has been trained and she has not actually taken part in the survey after failing to return her forms.
Mystery shoppers are real patients who have genuine reasons to use the area's NHS services.
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Their undercover operation is mainly to assess the service provided and the communication from the healthcare professionals.
Results of the secret missions are given to department managers to either try to make improvements or share any good practice.
There are currently 75 mystery shoppers but as more than three-quarters of them are aged over 50, officials also want to recruit younger people.
They are also targeting expectant mothers attending ante-natal clinics.
The project is being led by mental health trust NHS Combined Healthcare and looks at standards in hospitals as well as GP and dental surgeries.
Combined Healthcare chief executive Fiona Myers said: "How healthcare is experienced by patients is often as important to them, their carers, family and friends as the treatment they receive."