Mystery shoppers are helping to improve the quality of services provided by a local NHS Foundation Trust.

South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (SEPT), which provides mental health, social care, learning disability and community services,  has been using mystery shoppers in Bedfordshire and Luton since 2010. Under the initiative service users and carers can sign up to become a mystery shopper and report their experience from face-to-face and telephone contact with SEPT staff by completing questionnaires. Positive outcomes from mystery shopper feedback include changes to the SEPT website, improved staff customer care skills, improvements made to some waiting areas and improvements in reception staff communicating delayed appointment times.

SEPT’s chief executive, Dr Patrick Geoghegan OBE, said: “The mystery shopper initiative is fantastic because it captures real time feedback of service user and carer experiences.  We take the feedback seriously and mystery shoppers are asked to name the staff they are giving feedback about and the results are shared with the staff manager, the medical director and myself. ”

Patient experience manager, Kay Sookun, said: “The mystery shopper initiative has proven to be very effective at capturing patient experience feedback. Patient experience is high up the SEPT agenda and the feedback we are receiving is that our mystery shoppers feel positively empowered by the initiative.”