Guidance on handling the Friends and Family Test in sensitive situations

NHS England published new guidance to healthcare providers and suppliers of the Friends and Family Test in April 2016 on how best to handle the FFT in sensitive situations. The guidance recommends that providers and FFT suppliers should:

  1. routinely exclude cases from the FFT that are likely to cause upset or distress;
  2. ensure high standards of privacy, confidentiality and ethics when collecting and handling FFT data;
  3. follow the key principles of the Market Research Society Code of Conduct.

NHS providers and suppliers of the FFT are expected to implement these changes as soon as it is reasonably possible.

Guidance on Friends and Family Test for women who suffer miscarriage or stillbirth

NHS England issued guidance to healthcare providers on the implementation of the Friends and Family Test in July 2014 in relation to women who suffer either miscarriage or stillbirth.

A survey carried out by Sands (the stillbirth and neonatal death charity), on behalf of NHS England, explored the use of the maternity FFT with families that had experienced bereavement. The responses strongly suggested that the standard FFT question, its timing and method of delivery, are not appropriate for recently bereaved parents. NHS England therefore issued a note to clarify the position and informed providers that they are not required to offer the FFT to this group as a matter of course.

The clarification of the maternity FFT guidance confirmed that providers have flexibility, on a case-by-case basis, to exercise discretion and avoid causing unnecessary additional distress to families in hugely difficult circumstances. However, those responding to the Sands survey felt that it would be right to get feedback on their care from those bereaved parents who wish to give it.

We will be reminding providers, and the suppliers they work with on FFT, about this advice.

Please see the relevant section (page 47) in the FFT Implementation Guidance – updated March 2015