A CUSTOMER survey company has called Southend patients almost 35,000 times in a year.

The aim is to improve performance but for those who have to visit the hospital almost daily the system has been described as a “nuisance”

Both inpatients and outpatients at Southend Hospital are being called multiple times after each visit to take part in a patient survey.

Information obtained by the Echo in a Freedom of Information request, shows over the last year the hospital has made 34,393 calls, with 16,028 patients taking part in the survey.

The hospital refused to reveal how much the survey, which is run by a private company, had cost so far, saying the information was “commercially sensitive” and not in the public interest.

It said: “The trust has an external provider for the provision of patient experience feedback surveys. This is a third party contract and the trust does not hold an elemental breakdown of these costs, which have been deemed commercially sensitive on the basis that releasing them could potentially harm the trust, and its suppliers’ commercial interests.”

A Southend resident who asked not to be named, said: “Unfortunately my husband has been ill and that has meant quite a few trips to hospital, both as an inpatient and an outpatient. My daughter has also visited the hospital. Each visit is followed by a number of automated calls which are as irritating as cold calling companies.

“The hospital makes a few attempts at contacting patients before giving up, but as soon as another visit is made, the calls start up again. I understand feedback is valuable to the hospital, but I believe this is on the boundaries of being a nuisance, particularly for the elderly.”

A Patient Experience Team gathers feedback from patients, relatives and carers which the hospital says is used to improve services.

The hospital also collects feedback with comment cards, a friends and family test asking if patients would recommend the hospital, a mystery shopper scheme and patient and carer forums.

Patients can also leave comments on the NHS Choices and Patient Opinion website and advocacy groups such, as Healthwatch Southend, also give feedback to the hospital.

The hospital said it was unable to provide a comment.