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NHS England hailed the introduction of the friends-and-family test in hospitals as a major step forward in its drive to give patients a greater voice.
From 1 April 2013, every patient in England who visits an A&E, and all patients who stay in hospital overnight will be asked whether they would recommend the service they used to their friends and family members.
Patients will have six choices of answer, ranging from “extremely likely” to “extremely unlikely.” They will then be invited to answer follow-up questions to give more detail on the reasons for their answer. Results, drilling down to individual wards, will be published on NHS Choices, allowing the public to compare patient feedback and make choices about their care.
Individual hospitals and wards will use this real-time feedback, alongside other information, to identify and tackle concerns at an early stage, improve the quality of care they provide, and ensure recognition of the very best care so that best practice can be spread around the health service.
The introduction of the Friends and Family Test was a key commitment in “Everyone Counts”, the planning guidance for the NHS published by NHS England (formerly NHS Commissioning Board) in December 2012.
Over the coming years, NHS England will manage and oversee the rollout of the Friends and Family Test to all NHS-funded services. Maternity services will be next to introduce the question, in October
Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s National Director for Patients and Information, said: “The Friends and Family test is an important first step in changing the nature of the relationship between the NHS and the people it serves. To make improvements, and make them quickly, it is vital that we welcome honest, up-to-the-minute feedback from our patients, listen to them and act upon their views.
“When regular feedback from patients reaches ward or A&E staff, it can have a tremendous impact in a really short space of time. I’d encourage all patients to give their feedback whenever they are asked to do so – we are eager to hear their views.”
Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England, said: “The Friends and Family test is a really simple way for patients to let us know if we could improve the standard of care we’re giving, and that’s really important. Giving compassionate care is at the heart of what we do and listening to the experiences and feedback of patients is central to NHS values.”