The Friends and Family Test is driving up standards

In the latest of our blogs marking Friends and Family Test Spotlight Week, NHS England’s FFT Communications and Engagement Manager, reveals the passion behind a plethora of FFT Award entries:

At our Insight and Feedback Conference in Leeds tomorrow, five NHS providers will carry off some very well-deserved crystal trophies in recognition of their fabulous work implementing a national patient feedback initiative in their organisations.

As one of the organisers of the 2016 Friends and Family Test (FFT) Awards – the first scheme to formally recognise the great work of NHS providers since this feedback tool began to be rolled out across services three years ago – I’ve had the privilege of reading all of the 200 or so entries we received.

One thing I’m sure about is that those who come top across the five categories will certainly not be the only winners.

Of course, there will be certificates for a further 18 outstanding entrants to whom our panels of judges have assigned runner-up or highly commended status.

Around 100 entries reached the finals across five categories and have all had the opportunity to publicise their achievement to their staff and local communities since they were revealed to be on the shortlist, so it’s great that they will get some recognition too. Every entrant also got a thank you letter from one of our directors to acknowledge their hard work.

But the reality is – if it’s not too corny to say so – everyone’s a winner whatever their position in the results.

What reading the entries told me wasn’t so much about the relative merits of the initiatives described on the application forms or how well they were presented. It was about how people have made the FFT their own, regardless of scale or resources, finding ways to make it a really positive and transformative part of the daily business of their organisations, from the smallest dental practice to the most prestigious NHS trusts.

I was thrilled for them as I sensed their surprised reaction to the very positive ratings and comments that patients generally give to NHS services when they give feedback, spurring on those services to strive for even higher standards.

The sheer human determination to do better for patients just jumped off the pages, along with passion, creativity and pride: from doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, from HR staff, from patient experience teams, from IT analysts and also from volunteers who give their time freely to help organisations to act on what patient feedback is telling them.

The tangible improvements, large and small, were totally clear and will be a very real part of an improved patient experience for millions of people.

The NHS has gained a great body of good practice around the FFT as a result of so many great awards entries, with many of the initiatives to be written up as a bank of case studies for our website over the next few months.

For me, as someone who has worked on the FFT programme in a back-room capacity for 18 months, these awards have made me feel grateful for and inspired by all the great work that is going on, every day, on the frontline and behind the scenes right across NHS services in England.

So, when the awards are presented on Thursday, I will celebrate with all those who get a prize of some sort. They deserve it. But I’ll also be saluting all the others who are doing so much for their patients, as well as sharing their stories and being role models for their peers. Seriously, you are all winners.

  • You can follow the announcement of the results of the awards on our news section and on Twitter throughout the day on Thursday. Join the conversation on #nhsfft.
  • Find out more about the Friends and Family Test at or, if you work in the NHS, in the FFT section of this website.


Gillian Radcliffe

Gillian Radcliffe leads communications and engagement work within the Insight and Feedback Team at NHS England, supporting work primarily on the Friends and Family Test but also around national surveys and related projects.

Gillian has been a senior communications professional in the public sector for almost 30 years, with experience in the health, education and criminal justice sectors.

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  1. David Peach says:

    I don’t know where you get your feedback, a friend of mine says his father-in-law was in Kings Mill and the nurses where short staffed and could not provide basic care, appalling this is not a one of situation. They still haven’t come up with some one to protect whistle blowers, those of whom that can give a clear indication of what its like in the Hospitals. Its know good relying on the Department of Health their candidate would be questionable. The only organisations to select a candidate to listen to whistle blowers in my opinion would be either the BMA or the Royal College of Nursing