First local results of Friends and Family Test for maternity services are published

The first results of the Friends and Family Test (FFT) for NHS-funded maternity services across England have today been published alongside the latest FFT results for A&E and Inpatient departments.

The data comprises feedback from thousands of pregnant women and mothers of new-born babies who, since October 1, 2013, have been giving their views on the services they receive throughout their pregnancy.

The Friends and Family Test asks women up to four questions at three stages during their pregnancy, seeking feedback about antenatal services, the labour ward/ birthing unit or home birth services, the postnatal ward and the postnatal community services.

They are asked whether they would recommend maternity services to their nearest and dearest based on their own experience. Their responses will build into the most comprehensive feedback exercise ever undertaken with pregnant women and involves 138 trusts and more than 200 maternity sites nationally.

Results suggest the FFT for maternity services is working well:

  • Over the first three months, more than 93,600 pieces of feedback were gathered from pregnant women and mums.
  • The response rates for their feedback on the services offered at the birth of their child topped more than 19 per cent for each of the three months October to December – out performing the target level of 15 per cent.
  • 138 NHS trusts (all expected organisations) submitted data for November and December.  Only one organisation did not submit data for October due to difficulties collating the data.
  • In December there were 175 (plus 44 community) sites covered for question one, for question two it was 205 (plus 44 community) and for question three 202 (plus 6 community).  Question four responses were collected at trust level only and data was received for all 138 trusts.
  • At site level, the total number of most positive scores (+100) has risen from 70 in November to 93 in December.
  • The number of sites with the most negative score of -100 decreased from three in November to just two in December across questions one to three.

Rolling out FFT to maternity services represents the latest major step forward in NHS England’s commitment to transparency, openness and public participation. It allows hospital trusts to gain real time feedback on their maternity services helping to drive up quality and help shape better care for women.

Frontline staff are already reacting to the feedback given by women to ensure an immediate improvement to maternity services offered. One example of this can be seen at The University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust.

The trust received FFT maternity feedback raising issues over the new birth centre’s discharge process, visiting for partners and making FFT more visible.

As a result staff have worked to speed up the discharge process, changed the visiting for partners so dads can now stay on the ward at night, and have designed new boards making feedback opportunities more visible to mothers as part of their drive towards “Improving the postnatal Experience”.

The real strength of the Friends and Family Test lies in the rich source of views that can be used locally to highlight and address concerns much faster than more traditional survey methods. Comments from women are rapidly available to frontline maternity staff, so practical action can be taken to address problems that concern patients in a prompt “You said – we did” response.

Dr Catherine Calderwood, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Maternity and Women’s Health, welcomed the extension of FFT to maternity services, saying: “Maternity staff work hard to provide excellent services for women across the NHS. The Friends and Family Test provides an additional opportunity to capture feedback relating to maternity services.”

Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s National Director for Patients and Information, said:  “We already have evidence from the work we have done in accident and emergency and inpatient services throughout the country that Friends and Family Test data is a vital tool for driving improvement in services”.

“In those areas we have gathered more than 1.3 million pieces of feedback, allowing hundreds of thousands of people to have their say.  The level of feedback from our maternity units is already just as impressive”.

Details of the Friends and Family Test maternity data for December 2013 can be found on the NHS Choices website. The FFT maternity data for October and November for all Trusts is within the statistics page of the NHS England website.