The NHS Friends and Family Test (FFT) has reached a memorable milestone today by achieving its ten millionth piece of feedback from patients.
Launched in April 2013 and now fully rolled out across the NHS, the FFT has allowed millions of patients to give invaluable feedback on their experiences of care and treatment in services throughout the NHS.
It has quickly grown into the biggest ever collection of patient opinion in any health service anywhere in the world and gives staff the ability to react promptly and make swift and lasting improvements to care provided.
Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s National Director for Patients and Information, said: “The Friends and Family Test has extended across the NHS over the past two years. It has become a key tool for providing healthcare providers and commissioners with real time feedback that helps them to hear their patients’ views and react quickly.
“The huge number of responses from patients shows that many people value the opportunity to have their say. It is helping to improve transparency in the NHS but also to drive real improvements in local services. Given the overwhelmingly positive scores that have been recorded, it is a huge vote of confidence and appreciation for the hardworking staff of the NHS across England.”
The FFT was first announced by the Prime Minister in January 2012 to give patients a real voice in deciding whether their care is good enough or not, with hospitals and other services able to take swift action to make necessary improvements.
Health Minister for Care Quality, Ben Gummer, said: “We want the NHS to be the safest, most transparent and compassionate in the world. Feedback from the people who use and deliver services is key to this, so as well as bringing in new inspections, we are empowering patients and staff to give feedback that shapes how services are provided in the future.
“With over ten million responses so far, the Friends and Family Test is a litmus test of how patients rate their care and experience. It gives us a great insight into the NHS, including where things are going well and which areas need improvement. Ten million pieces of feedback is an important source of public opinion, so I’m pleased the Friends and Family Test has reached this important milestone, and look forward to it playing an ongoing role in the NHS’s culture of continual learning and improvement.”
Data published today shows that, over the first three months of them taking part in the FFT, dental practices consistently had 97% of patients saying they would recommend the service and only 1% saying they would not. More than six out of ten dental practices that submitted details of their patients’ ratings received 100% positive scores.
Ambulance patients who gave feedback gave positive ratings of 93% in April and 94% positive rating in May and June. Negative ratings were 3% in April and June and just 2% in May.
For patient transport services too, at least nine out of ten people who gave feedback would recommend the service: 90% in April and June and 92% in May (5% negative in each of the three months). This highly positive patient feedback is consistent with that from other parts of the NHS.
Examples of improvements to services prompted by feedback from FFT include:
- The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in London made improvements to help parents and carers of younger inpatients. This included providing a bed for use on occasions when a parent or carer needs to be close by overnight and providing a bigger kitchen where they can prepare food and help themselves to free hot drinks.
- On the same hospital’s adult wards, patients had commented frequently on noise levels at night so a team of nurses came up with a number of measures to quieten things down. This includes a welcome pack with an eye mask and ear-plugs, as well as the introduction of a strict “lights out” policy at night.
- At the Neera Medical Practice in Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, the FFT highlighted that many patients were concerned about the lack of appointments available and difficulty in getting to see the practice nurse. As a result, the practice recruited a new nurse, extended the number of working days and opened up appointments with both the nurse and the GPs on Saturdays and Sundays.
- At the St Peter’s Medical Practice in Harrow, a common theme among FFT comments from patients was about the phone system being constantly engaged. The practice responded by putting in place a new telephone system with a menu of options, which is helping to route calls more quickly and the time patients have to wait to be dealt with. The practice has also improved its communications with patients via a newsletter and the leaflet to promote new services that patients were unaware of, such as the opportunity to request repeat prescriptions online. A number of other practices have also reported responding to similar issues by promoting the availability of online services for prescriptions and appointment booking.
- Surgery ward patients at the West Middlesex University Hospital used their FFT forms to draw attention to mixed up food orders and the quantity of food served. The wards’ staff responded by introducing a new scheme where the healthcare assistants were released from their daily ward duties to provide additional support to the hostesses at mealtimes. This ensured there was time to check patients had the food they ordered and were happy with the amount served. As a result, the ward is seeing more positive FFT scores and staff report improved working relationships with their colleagues.
Although the FFT helps identify areas such as these where improvements can be made, most of the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive across healthcare organisations and many of them report that it has provided an unexpected boost to staff morale and created many more opportunities to give well deserved appreciation to individual staff who have given excellent patient care.