Our digital surveys

Gather patient survey example.pngHave you received a text message from www.gthr.co.uk or received an email asking you to visit a page on the same site?

The Trust uses a company called Gather to offer surveys via email and text.  This company is contracted by Dorset HealthCare to provide this service.  For standard patient experience surveys, the data collected is anonymous and cannot be linked to your medical records. 

A very small number of responses are recorded against your personal medical records for the purposes of evaluating your treatment e.g. asking you what your opinion is about how your treatment is progressing.  This is done when the clinical staff managing your care ask us to support their work.  We call these patient reported outcome or experience measures (PROM or PREM).  When you are asked to complete one of these it is clear that these surveys are linked to your medical records.

Is it safe?

The links that we ask you to click on are not phishing requests but are genuine surveys aimed at our patients.  Our system meets NHS security requirements and GDPR requirements.  For further information on security and governance click here.

Why do we ask for feedback?

Patients have a very important role to play in helping us understand what is good and what could be better within our services.  This is embedded into the NHS:

  • under the NHS Constitution, patients have a right to give feedback on the services they receive
  • there is a mandatory requirement for all NHS trusts to offer the Friends and Family Test, this is a survey which requests feedback from patients accessing our services.

Feedback is very important in management of health services.  The Trust uses the feedback to identify areas which need improvement and those that meet and exceed patient requirements. NHS management review feedback on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis.

Why are we asking you for feedback digitally?

Collecting patient feedback via traditional methods is a time-consuming process and has associated costs.  Printing surveys and staff entering data to enable collation and analysis are the main costs associated with patient feedback. 

Costs and valuable staff time can be significantly reduced by moving to digital collection of feedback.

We see significantly higher levels of feedback when surveys are moved to digital collection from paper.


Is this fair?  What about people who don’t use the internet?

89% of the population use the internet with 60% saying that a smartphone is the most important device for internet access (source: Ofcom Technology Tracker 2011-2020). When looking at the breakdown of users across the age ranges, as could be expected, usage reduces with older age groups. 

Offering surveys via email and text in the majority of age ranges does not exclude significant proportions of our patients.  However, to ensure that all patients continue to be offered the opportunity to feedback, traditional paper surveys are also available. 

Proportion of UK population who go online.png

Proportion of UK population who ever go online, at home or elsewhere, by age.

Does this work?

The Trust currently sends out large volumes of text surveys and some email surveys. Overall response rates are very good, outperforming the majority of paper surveys which are posted at additional costs. 

A recent review of email surveys sent to patients over 70, who used the Covid-19 vaccination centre at the Bournemouth International Centre, demonstrated that 40% of surveys issued were responded to. 

Any further questions?

If you have any further questions please contact Patient Experience team, on dhc.patient.experience@nhs.net 

Patient experience