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Friends and family test improves GP services

10 million responses to the NHS Friends and Family Test

Adrian O'Dowd

Friday, 21 August 2015

Services at GP premises are improving following feedback from the NHS Friends and Family Test (FFT).

NHS England released details today of the FFT’s ten millionth piece of feedback from patients.

The scheme, launched in April 2013 and now rolled out across the NHS, allows patients to give feedback on their experiences of care and treatment in services throughout the NHS.

It is now the biggest ever collection of patient opinion in any health service anywhere in the world and gives staff the ability to react and make swift and lasting improvements to care provided.

One example of improvement to services prompted by feedback from FFT was at the Neera Medical Practice in Stanford-le-Hope, Essex.

Feedback revealed that many patients were concerned about the lack of appointments available and difficulty in getting to see the practice nurse there.

As a result, the practice recruited a new nurse, extended the number of working days and opened up appointments with both the nurse and the GPs on Saturdays and Sundays.

Another example was at the St Peter’s Medical Practice in Harrow, where a common theme among FFT comments from patients was the phone system being constantly engaged.

The practice responded by putting in place a new telephone system with a menu of options, which has helped to route calls more quickly and reduce the time that patients have to wait.

The practice has also improved communications with patients via a newsletter and a leaflet to promote new services that patients might have been unaware of, such as the opportunity to request repeat prescriptions online.

Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s national director for patients and information, said: “The Friends and Family Test has become a key tool for providing healthcare providers and commissioners with real time feedback that helps them to hear their patients’ views and react quickly.

“The huge number of responses from patients shows that many people value the opportunity to have their say.

“It is helping to improve transparency in the NHS but also to drive real improvements in local services. Given the overwhelmingly positive scores that have been recorded, it is a huge vote of confidence and appreciation for the hardworking staff of the NHS across England.”

Health minister for care quality, Ben Gummer, said: “We want the NHS to be the safest, most transparent and compassionate in the world. Feedback from the people who use and deliver services is key to this, so as well as bringing in new inspections, we are empowering patients and staff to give feedback that shapes how services are provided in the future.

“With over 10 million responses so far, the Friends and Family Test is a litmus test of how patients rate their care and experience. It gives us a great insight into the NHS, including where things are going well and which areas need improvement.”

NHS England said that although the FFT helped identify areas in need of improvement, most of the feedback had been overwhelmingly positive across healthcare organisations and had helped boost staff moral.

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