Friends and Family Test in NHS dental services

We are committed to giving patients the opportunity to let us know what they think about the services they use, and also using that feedback to improve services. The FFT has been designed to be flexible and efficient with very few requirements, other than to make FFT available to patients and submit monthly response numbers to NHS England. The majority of NHS dentists have successfully implemented the Friends and Family Test (FFT) and submit monthly data to NHS England. Since it was first introduced in 2013, millions of responses have been collected, making the FFT the biggest feedback mechanism the NHS has ever seen. The vast majority of responses are very positive.

Submission of monthly FFT was suspended due to COVID-19 but restarted from July 2021 (the first data to submit will be July’s data submitted in August). Please see the FFT FAQs for further details.

Our advice since the start of the pandemic has been to avoid using collection methods that might be an infection risk and we have put a notice on the FFT data web page that makes it clear that there is likely to be an impact on the number of responses collected.

However, it’s really important that people continue to have the opportunity to give feedback. Many providers have developed ways to collect feedback that are not based on collecting responses on paper or card (such as online questionnaires, mobile phone apps, or by sending SMS/text messages).

FFT should be available to everyone that uses NHS services and we generally advise providers to think about using a range of methods to be more inclusive because, for example, some people are less likely to routinely use computers or mobile phones while others find them more convenient than taking time to fill out a card after an appointment.

Practices that only use paper/card collection methods may be able to find a way to manage paper/card responses by ‘quarantining’ them in the collection box until they are safe to handle (as some hospitals do – taking care to clean pens/pencils between uses), but they should seek and adhere to their own local infection control advice.

If practices really are not able to collect FFT responses through any of those methods, it would still be really helpful to us if they could submit a monthly response, even if it’s zero.

Contact the FFT helpdesk if you need any advice or support: