Fifth Citizens' Panel report

Fifth Citizens' Panel report

Fifth Panel Report

The fifth Citizens' Panel survey was carried out between June and July 2019.

Panel members were asked questions about the Scottish Ambulance Service, their attitudes towards organ and tissue donation after death, and the care provided by nurses and midwives.

Key Findings

The Scottish Ambulance Service

The Scottish Ambulance Service is beginning to develop its strategy for the future, focusing on the period 2021–2030. The Scottish Ambulance Service has changed significantly in recent years, moving away from primarily a means of transporting people to hospitals to becoming a key provider of healthcare in communities. The results from this survey will help influence the Scottish Ambulance Service’s new strategy.

A fast or prompt response of service was most important to Panel members (85%) should they require the services of the Scottish Ambulance Service. This was followed by well trained, competent or knowledgeable staff (62%) and caring, understanding or empathetic staff (36%).

Survey on the Scottish Ambulance Service, organ and tissue donation after death, and care provided by nurses and midwives
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Publication date: October 2019

In terms of the qualities that Panel members believe contribute to a good ambulance professional, the top response was for knowledgeable, skilled, trained, professional or experienced staff (71%) followed by staff being caring, compassionate, understanding or sympathetic (57%).

Panel members were then asked about any situations where people may call for an ambulance, other than in a life-threatening emergency. Examples given included accidents such as broken bones or falls (14%), extreme situations requiring urgent help such as pain, blood loss, breathing issues, heart attacks and allergic reactions etc (11%) and for transport to appointments or hospital or where people don’t have access to any other form of transport (10%).

More than 7 in 10 respondents (73%) felt either very or fairly comfortable knowing that they might have to wait a little longer for an ambulance response (outside of a life-threatening emergency), if it meant that they were more likely to receive a more appropriate response for their condition.

Eight in ten respondents (80%) felt either very or fairly comfortable discussing options for further care with ambulance professionals that may not result in a visit to a hospital emergency department.

Just under 7 in 10 respondents (68%) said they would feel comfortable if they were offered a consultation with an ambulance professional as part of the service offered by their GP practice.

In terms of what information Panel members believed would be most helpful for ambulance professionals to make decisions with them about their care, just under 9 in 10 respondents (89%) said their medical history would be helpful and 81% said key summary information about pre-existing medical conditions would be helpful.

Over 8 in 10 respondents (82%) felt either very or fairly comfortable with the Scottish Ambulance Service having access to this information (e.g. medical history, allergy information, community assistance etc).

Attitudes toward organ and tissue donation after death

In future, the law on organ and tissue donation after death in Scotland will be changing to an ‘opt-out’ system. To help the Scottish Government prepare for this change, Panel members were asked for their opinions on a range of statements about organ and tissue donation after death.

The level of agreement ranged from 76% who agreed with the statement “I trust the organ and tissue donation system in Scotland” to 92% who agreed with the statement “I feel able to have a conversation with a family member or loved one about my organ and tissue donation”. Panel members were asked about their awareness and level of understanding in relation to organ and tissue donation after death.

  • 88% understood that under the proposed ‘opt-out’ system they may be presumed to be willing to donate unless they have stated that they do not wish to do so.
  • 86% were aware of the plans to move to an ‘opt-out’ system for organ and tissue donation in Scotland.
  • 62% were aware how to register their organ and tissue donation decision.

Just under half of respondents have already registered their decision about organ and tissue donation after their death (46%) and just under half (49%) had not.

Around two thirds of those respondents (66%) said they were either very or somewhat likely to do this, 17% said they were somewhat likely and a further 17% were unsure. Over six in ten (61%) have had a conversation with a family member or loved one about their organ and tissue donation decision.

Nursing and midwifery care

The topic on nursing and midwifery care was included in the Citizens’ Panel to inform and influence the Excellence in Care Programme which launched in April 2016. Excellence in Care aims to provide the Scottish public with confidence and assurance that nursing and midwifery care is high quality, safe, effective and person-centred.

When asked about the qualities of a ‘caring nurse or midwife’, the top response was for them to be compassionate, understanding or sympathetic (75%). This was followed by staff being knowledgeable, skilled, trained, professional or experienced (73%).

Over 3 in 10 survey respondents (31%) have had a recent care experience in the last 12 months with a nurse or midwife. Of these individuals, over half (55%) said they are always or frequently given the opportunity to share their preferences about their care with their nurse or midwife, 22% said they are sometimes given this opportunity, 21% said they are rarely or never given this opportunity and 2% were unsure.

Panel members were then asked how comfortable they would feel asking a nurse or midwife a range of questions about their care. This revealed that:

  • 70% would feel comfortable asking for more information, explanation and options around their care · 69% would feel comfortable asking when they would like aspects of care to be carried out
  • 68% would feel comfortable asking how they would like to be cared for and how they can contribute to their plan of care, and
  • 62% would feel comfortable asking how they can provide feedback about their experience.

Panel members were asked to select from a list of options, identifying which aspects of their care and treatment they would be happy discussing with their nurse or midwife. Over 9 in 10 respondents were happy to discuss each of these aspects, with respondents being most comfortable discussing the details of their current health condition (98%) and slightly less comfortable discussing the risks and benefits associated with the treatments available to them or doing nothing (92%) and details of likely future outcomes relating to their health condition (92%).

The majority of respondents (73%) said there was nothing that stops (or limits) them from being involved in decisions about their healthcare and treatment. On the other hand, 9% mentioned a lack of appointments or appointments being too short and 8% mentioned staff issues such as staff not listening to their concerns or a lack of consistency in terms of not seeing the same member of staff at their appointments.

Finally, when asked about what matters most to Panel members when thinking about the professional practice of nurses and midwives, 8 in 10 respondents (80%) said competence, knowledge and skill was most important. This was followed by being treated with dignity and respect (51%) and being cared for compassionately (32%).


"Our new system of triaging 999 emergency calls – the New Clinical Response Model – was launched 3 years ago; a system which has helped us save the lives of a higher number of critically ill people.

"Whilst some patients who are less critically ill sometimes wait longer for an ambulance – as a consequence of us prioritising our sickest patients – the number of people surviving longer after a critical health issue, such as cardiac arrest, has increased.

"The new model also allows us to target less sick patients with a more appropriate response. Hearing from the results of this survey that the public understand this is very positive indeed – saving more lives and helping patients as quickly as possible is our priority, and having public understanding and support for this approach is very important."

- Jim Ward, Medical Director of the Scottish Ambulance Service

Last Updated: 22 May 2023