Spotlight on Friends and Family Test

The spotlight will be turned on the Friends and Family Test next week (14 to 18 March) in an initiative aimed at boosting the number of people giving feedback on their NHS care and treatment.

There will be a five-day mini-campaign across England with a range of promotional activities in the community – such as information stands in local supermarkets and posters in libraries, local media advertising, a one-day national conference and an announcement about the winners of the first FFT Awards.

As well as NHS England, many healthcare providers are getting involved, along with some local Healthwatch volunteers, hospital radio stations and patient groups to spread the word about how patients can improve services by having their say.

The Friends and Family Test (FFT) is a simple question to gauge how patients – whatever their age, medical condition and background – rate their experience of NHS services.  It is quick, easy and anonymous and everyone has the opportunity to respond whenever they use the NHS.

Patients can take part in a variety of ways: either by filling in a form and posting it in a feedback box at the hospital or surgery; or by responding to a text or email invitation sent after their appointment. There are a range of other options used in different places, such as kiosks and touchscreens. Many innovative ways have also been developed to ensure that children, people with disabilities and those with language or literacy issues can also take part.

Since the FFT began rolling out across most of the NHS three years ago – including to GP and dental practices last year – patients have given almost 17 million pieces of feedback – with more data due to be published this week – making it the biggest initiative in the world for listening to views on healthcare.

Most of the feedback is positive, with around 9 out of every 10 patients saying they would recommend the service to their family and friends, and this has provided a morale boost to hard-working NHS staff.  However, some patients tell services how their experience could have been improved, often explaining their rating and making suggestions.  This vital feedback has led to many improvements, large and small, across the country.

The FFT Awards, which showcase some of the good practice and improvements the NHS has adopted as a result of patient feedback, have attracted nearly 200 entries.  Winners in five categories will be announced on 17 March.

On the same day, NHS England hosts a national insight and feedback conference at The Queens Hotel in Leeds so leaders in the field can discuss how they can make the best possible use of the wide range of information about what patients want and what they think to transform services.

Nearly 250 delegates, most of them responsible for the use of patient insight in NHS trusts or commissioning organisations, will be invited to take part in an initiative to kick-start insight networks for sharing information, generating ideas and pooling resources to cut out duplication and plug gaps in patient information.

Throughout the week, there will be updates and information about the campaign on the NHS England website, including a series of blogs on the theme of transforming services through patient insight.

Dan Wellings, Head of Insight and Feedback for NHS England, said: “We want everyone to understand they can give feedback at any time.  Every voice is important in building a picture of what’s working well and what can be improved.  Have your say today and help make the NHS better for all of us.”