In March 2024, the three local Healthwatch in Sussex sought experiences of Hospital ‘Patient Advice and Liaison Services’.

PALS provides a point of contact for patients, their families and their carers. They offer confidential advice, support and information on health-related matters.

By Healthwatch in Sussex
Healthwatch in Sussex

We heard:

94 people from across Sussex shared their views with us.

– 36.2% told us PALS made little difference to their experiences of managing their health, 33.0% found it made it easier/better and 10.1% harder/worse.

– The feature of PALS most identified as Excellent (30.9%) was ‘Delivering the outcome you were seeking’. However, this was also the aspect most identified as Poor (33.0%).

– More than a quarter of respondents rated PALS as Poor for ease of access, being kept informed, quality of information and delivering outcomes.

– PALS were most identified as Not at all helpful in: resolving problems, signposting outside the NHS, explaining complaints advocacy and listening to feedback.


Respondents to our poll told us they would like to see:

A continuation of the support PALS delivers to hospital users around advice and information on health-related matters and complaints processes.

“Everything was clearly explained, procedures moved along efficiently and smoothly, and everyone I encountered were helpful, kind and friendly.”


Improved awareness of PALS amongst patients so all hospital users are pro-actively made aware of them, the support they offer and how to contact them.

“Be more visible – not everyone know about PALS and what PALS is and stands for.”


Increased responsiveness from PALS to patient enquiries so people receive prompt acknowledgements, updates on actions taken and outcomes achieved.

“It takes too long to get a response, you are left waiting in limbo which is upsetting and feels cruel when the issues are so personal.”

“Get back to callers! Needs to be same day or next day at latest.”


PALS to modify how and when people can contact them so their needs and preferences are met, especially those who may struggle during usual office hours.

“Making the hours available to later in the day not – 3pm – maybe 5pm.“

7 day Service.”


Clarity on powers and levels of independence so users of PALS can be confident their needs are being championed and where appropriate changes will occur.

“To actually have the authority to take charge and be able to make demands and make things happen.”

“PALS being more proactive to ask the staff to investigate the issue rather than just relaying my query.”


A focus on using feedback and issues raised to develop and improve services

“The service only apologised for their mistake but not offered any action plan how they are planning to avoid similar mistakes in the future.”

“Return a message and be brave to listen to feedback. It’s starts with listening to the patient experience for quality improvement.”


Next steps

As the public champion for local health and care services, Healthwatch East Sussex will continue to work in partnership with commissioners and providers to monitor the experiences of patients and the public in accessing health and care services locally and explore how ongoing improvements may be delivered.

We will share the attached report with East Sussex County Council, NHS Sussex, Healthwatch England and others to share this insight and encourage its incorporation into future initiatives.


Tell Us Your Experiences 

Please tell us your experiences of local health and care services via our Feedback Centre and let us know how this has been for you. 

We want to hear if it has been good, bad or indifferent.


Help and support with Health and Care 

If you need help or support related to health or care, then please contact our Information & Signposting Service via 

0333 101 4007 or 

View the report

Click the link below to download the report

Healthwatch in Sussex - PALS Poll Results - March 2024 Download File (pdf 110.46 KB)

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