Awards showcase array of NHS improvements arising from patient feedback

From maternity wards to GP practices, from emergency departments to dental practices, the results of the national Friends and Family Test Awards, announced today, demonstrate that NHS providers are listening to patient feedback and that services are continuing to improve because of it.

More than 100 entries were shortlisted in the finals of the awards, with the results announced during NHS England’s Patient Insight and Feedback Conference in Leeds. Prizes were awarded to five main categories winners and a total of ten runners-up.  A further seven entries were highly commended by the judges.

The Friends and Family Test – which is this week raising awareness of the opportunity for people to have their say on NHS healthcare – is a near real-time patient feedback tool.  It was launched in some services three years ago and has now rolled out to most NHS services.

Almost 18 million pieces of feedback have been collected in that time, with most patients who take part – around nine out of ten – saying they would recommend the service they received.  Patients are invited to give comments to explain their rating of the service and some also make suggestions.  Providers review the feedback regularly and it helps them to identify and address areas where things could be improved.

Anu Singh, NHS England’s Director of Patient and Public Participation and Insight, said: “The NHS has a duty to listen and respond to the people it serves and the FFT is one of the insight tools available to help that to happen.

“Any service needs to understand the people it serves and good organisations do this as a matter of course. Without this understanding the NHS has less chance of delivering care that is safe, effective and that is experienced positively, so we’ve been really pleased to see how committed so many services are to involving patients in the process of improvement.

She added: “We were delighted by the quality of entries and the prize-winners have literally come from right across England, from Bristol and the south coast to Merseyside and the North East, with success in the Midlands and London too. It wasn’t planned that way: the judging panels focused on the quality of the service improvements and the commitment to listening to and engaging patients rather than where the entries came from but the results illustrate the reach and impact of this national initiative.”

The prize-winners are:

Best Initiative in Primary Care – Bradford on Avon and Melksham Health Partnership, Wiltshire: This GP practice goes the extra mile to make sure staff encourage patient feedback and has put in place management processes, involving the Patient Participation Group, to ensure the feedback is looked at and action taken.  They tell patients what comments and suggestions were made and what action is being taken about it. Improvements resulting from the FFT include action on waiting times and reception services; improved patient leaflets; avoiding use of jargon; the introduction of evening telephone consultation by GPs for their “own” patients to improve continuity; extra staffing of phones during peaks in appointment bookings; better informed choice of music for the waiting area. This award was judged by a panel of patient volunteers recruited through the National Association for Patient Participation.

Runners up in this category are: Springhead Medical Centre (Dr D Roper and Partners), Hull; Smile Care Centre dental practice, Chesterfield; and Giltbrook Medical Centre, Nottingham.

Other NHS-funded Services – Emergency Department at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, Slough: Using the FFT, the emergency department has turned things around from having relatively poor levels of patient satisfaction and a high number of complaints to involving patients more, improving the culture and working practices across the whole team and driving up patient satisfaction while complaints have reduced.  They have engaged patients with long term conditions and repeat experience of using the service to help design the service improvements.

Runners up in this category are: Postnatal Ward, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London; and the team responsible for the Real-Time Experience Initiative, St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London.  Highly commended are: Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Dorchester; and the Maternity Service, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, Coventry; Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, Patients and Carers Experience Team.

Champion FFT Team or Individual – Maternity Team at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust, Wigan, Lancashire: Feedback from patients has helped staff to make practical improvements to the ward environment, such as introducing a side room for dads to stay with mum after children are born, allowing dads to feel more involved in the experience, supporting development of their parenting skills, and readying the new family for home.

Runners up in this category are: East Surrey Hospital Emergency Department, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS; and Maggie Brewis, PALS volunteer for North East Ambulance Service, Newcastle upon Tyne. Highly commended are: Tom Magill, Patient Experience Senior Analyst, for the Real Time Experience (RaTE) Initiative, St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London; and Mike Swallow for FFT Children and Young People Initiative, Burnham Health Centre, Slough.

Best Accessibility Initiative – Patient Experience Team, Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Derby: The trust demonstrates a real commitment to gather feedback from all patients, regardless of their background or conditions, acts on it.  New measures include a video call system in maternity for the hard of hearing and the trust is about to trial providing in-patients with ‘sleep’ packs’ – similar to the overnight items passengers receive on long-haul flights, to make their stay more comfortable

Runners up in this category are: Patient Experience Team, Birmingham Children’s Hospital; and Speech and Language Therapy Team, Frenchay Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre, Bristol. Runners up are: My Health My Say Project Team , a multi-agency initiative in Central London to engage people with Learning Disabilities in the FFT; and Children and Families’ Network Team, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, Accrington.

Best Staff FFT Initiative – Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (Kerry Jones, Staff Experience Project Manager): Some staff had given feedback to say that they felt they were unable to make suggestions to their work area and they did not look forward to coming to work. This was picked up through the Staff FFT scheme and managers set about developing an action plan to tackle the issues. This included introducing new ways for staff to use their initiative more and encouraging staff to attend a bi-monthly away day away from the clinical area.

Runners up are Bolton NHS Foundation Trust for their Developing Staff Engagement Metrics Initiative.