South Coast patients generally happy

Just over a quarter of patients surveyed about their stay in public hospitals across the region had worries or concerns about their conditions or treatment - although most did not share their fears with health professionals.

This was one area requiring improvement identified by the Bureau of Health Information's NSW Adult Admitted Patient Survey released on Friday, although overall the patient experience was a positive one.

More than 17,000 patients were surveyed during the first six months of 2013 - including nearly 1000 who were inpatients at hospitals throughout the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District.

Nearly 90 per cent of patients rated their overall experience in the region's public hospitals as "very good" or "good", while 84 per cent said they were "always" treated with dignity and respect.

Communication was mostly good, with 88 per cent of patients to the region's facilities reporting that clinicians explained things in a way they could understand either "all" or "most" of the time.

Most patients (95 per cent) said they wanted to be involved in decisions about their care and treatment, while 91 per cent said they were actually involved in such decisions.

Eighty-one per cent of patients said the "right amount" of information about their treatment or condition was given to them during their stay, though 19 per cent felt "not enough" information was given.

The majority of patients (83 per cent) at the region's hospitals thought that doctors and nurses were "always" kind and caring and more than 80 per cent expressed confidence and trust in those health professionals.

A spokeswoman for the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District welcomed the survey results.

"The local health district is always keen to hear from patients and consumers about the way we deliver care and services to the community," she said.

"This latest survey shows that overall the vast majority of patients admitted to our hospitals had good things to say about their stay.

"[It] also gives the district another opportunity to see what patients think we do well and what areas could be improved."