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NHS Friends and Family Test First Results

NHS Friends and Family Test First Results

Today is the launch of the first NHS Friends and Family Test first set of results.

The first results of a new patient rating system in England, known as the “friends and family test”, have been published.

The scheme, backed by the prime minister, asks patients if they would recommend the ward they were treated in to those close to them.

The data comes from thousands of people who stayed in hospital overnight, or attended A&E, in April, May and June.

Critics say the scheme is too blunt an instrument to provide useful data.

But David Cameron hailed the test as a simple way of getting patient feedback which could act as a warning that care needed improving, even down to individual wards.

The question asked is: “How likely are you to recommend our ward/A&E department to your friends and family if they needed similar care or treatment?”

There are plans to further expand the test to maternity services in October, and to GP practices, community services and mental health services by the end of 2014, then to all parts of the NHS by the end of March 2015.

Continue reading the main story on the BBC

Minister’s view

“I know from my own NHS experience that good healthcare is as much about the interaction between human beings as it is about the success of a particular treatment. It is the kind word, the hand held, the compassion that accompanies the clinical competence. If we want to put patients first, then we must listen to them and act on what they say. Today marks the moment when our NHS has the tools to do just that.”

Dr Dan Poulter, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health and practicing NHS hospital doctor

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the introduction of the friends and family test was an “historic” move for the NHS.

“This milestone moment is a key plank in our wider campaign to make sure that patients’ voices are heard at every level of the NHS.”

The friends and family test began nationally in April, after a year of pilots in the Midlands and east of England.

The questionnaire is seen as central to the government’s response to the Mid Staffordshire inquiry.

Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s director of patients and information, said no other health service in the world had invited patients to give feedback on such a scale.

A “transformation in the quality of customer service in health and care” was needed, he told The Daily Telegraph.

“Today we will learn some home truths about the NHS: some trusts will be surprised by the number of patients who would not recommend their services, and they will need to take a long hard look at how they can quickly transform their customer experience.”

‘Blunt instrument’

But Jocelyn Cornwall, director of the Point of Care Foundation, an independent charity working with health and social care organisations, said: “Collecting feedback is really important, but I think the question patients are asked doesn’t make sense.

Collecting feedback is really important, but I think the question patients are asked doesn’t make sense”

Jocelyn Cornwall,Point of Care Foundation

“Some hospitals were using much better methods of collecting feedback. But they’ve had to abandon what they were doing and replace it with this rather blunt instrument.

“Also, we know that patients are more likely to be positive when they’re in hospital than when they’re at home.

“There are good reasons for that – people feel vulnerable in hospital and worry that if they say something negative, it will rebound on them.”

Peter Lynn, professor of survey methodology at the University of Essex, said he was concerned that differences in scores between trusts or between wards may, in some cases, be misleading.

“This can arise because the rather simplistic methodology used to collect the data makes no allowance for differences between trusts or wards in types of patients, types of treatments, or the proportions or types of patients who provide an answer.

Additionally, variation was allowed between trusts in the way the test was administered. Although the objective is only to shine a light on poorer-performing trusts, the concern is that the light may not be shining in the right places. The methodology of this test really should be improved.”

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