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NHS to face ‘friends and family test’

Call for national measure of whether staff would advise treatment at their own workplace

Louise Prime

Friday, 25 May 2012

The NHS should introduce nationally a measure of quality based on whether or not staff would advise their family and friends to be treated in their own place of work, the Nursing and Care Quality Forum has recommended. The Forum also called for more emphasis on safe staffing levels and skills mix, with supernumerary leaders, and for nurses to be recruited for their ‘caring nature and compassion’ as well as their academic skills.

Nursing and care quality experts established the Forum earlier this year to report to the Prime Minister on how to improve the quality of nursing care in all care settings, and published its key initial recommendations this morning.

In her letter to David Cameron, the Forum’s chair Sally Brearley said that the ‘friends and family test’, in which staff are asked as part of a simple, regular process whether or not they would recommended their workplace for treatment of their own family and friends, should be developed as a formal measure and rolled out across the NHS nationwide. The results should be freely available so that the public can compare care providers, she added.

The Forum recommends that commissioners of education should ensure that universities recruiting nursing students test for values and compassion, alongside assessing knowledge and skills – but it insists that pre-registration nurse education must remain at degree level.

Sally Brearley and her team also report that leaders of organisations must place more emphasis on safe, appropriate staffing levels and skills mix, and that the Care Quality Commission should check this as part of its routine inspections.

They call for more autonomy – and accountability – for community and hospital-based nurse leaders in their clinical area, and say they must be supernumerary so that they can function properly in their leadership role.

Sally Brearley said: “… there are problems with the quality of some nursing care, and some of these problems are very serious. However, such cases are not representative of the quality of care that the majority of nurses deliver.

“Across the country, there are examples of individuals, teams and organisations working tirelessly to deliver excellent care to the people who use their services, and we need to learn from them.”

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