Using the Friends and Family Test to gain insight on the trust’s response to the pandemic

Trust/practice: Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust.


Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust uses an online platform for its FFT across the whole organisation – collecting feedback via SMS text messages – so it was not affected by the early advice in the pandemic not to use paper or iPads.

The trust considered whether it was appropriate to seek feedback during the pandemic. It decided to continue to use the FFT as a temperature check to get a sense of how patients were coping, but didn’t promote it or ask staff to remind people.


There was an increase in gratitude bias in the early days. The percentage of positive responses from inpatients went up to 99% but has now normalised. Outpatient feedback was also very positive about remote appointments.

The new question has been found to be much better and generated a lot of useful information.

Healthwatch Buckinghamshire had done some work with musculoskeletal (MSK) patients a few months before the onset of the pandemic, asking if they would consider non face-to-face appointments. They found a lot of support for the move to video and phone calls (depending on age), although some people, for various reasons, expressed a definite preference for face-to-face appointments.

The trust carried out a review of more than 8,000 outpatient FFT responses (more than 6,000 included comments) collected between 15 March and the end of May. The supplier that the trust uses is able to theme the comments, but every comment was also read.

The feedback was remarkably positive and identified a range of benefits. Patients felt that video or telephone appointments were:

  • safer
  • saved time
  • removed the need to find and pay for parking
  • allowed more time to talk about their concerns so they didn’t feel rushed
  • better for the environment
  • more likely to be on time – no waiting around in waiting rooms.

Overall they preferred video appointments to telephone.

Many patients supported continuing to use non-face to face appointments into the future, but some, while saying it is great for the current situation, wanted to go back to face to face when possible.

It was very helpful to keep the FFT running in the background during the whole period and it gave us quite a bit of useful information that is now feeding into the recovery programme.