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Five million items of feedback for Friends and Family Test

NHS now has largest database of patient opinion in the world

Mark Gould

Monday, 09 February 2015

The NHS Friends and Family Test (FFT) has gathered its five millionth piece of feedback from patients. Launched less than two years ago in April 2013, it has grown into the biggest ever collection of patient opinion in any health service anywhere in the world and NHS England says it gives staff the ability to react promptly and make swift improvements to care provided.

While some feedback has been critical and has led to changes to working practices or improvements to wards or other patient areas, NHS England says most FFT feedback has been "overwhelmingly positive" across healthcare organisations. Many organisations report that it has provided an unexpected boost to staff morale and created ongoing opportunities to reinforce good practice and give well deserved pats on the back to staff who have demonstrated excellent patient care.

Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s National Director for Patients and Information, said: “The Friends and Family Test is a big success story, providing us with real time feedback that allows us to react quickly to the needs and wishes of patients.

“The fact that we have gathered five million pieces of feedback in such a short period of time shows how effective it is – and it has led to genuine improvements to services wherever it has been used.”

He added: “Not only has the FFT been a step forward in terms of transparency and openness, but it has been a real game changer in terms of the NHS getting better at listening to patients and doing something about what they say.

“The FFT creates a direct conversation and gives staff the opportunity to respond quickly to what they are being told. Patients can also use the information to see what others are saying about services. This public participation is leading to the design of better services.”

Health Minister Earl Howe said: “The Friends and Family Test has now had over five million responses. This is a fantastic achievement and gives us a great insight into the NHS – where things are going well and where things need improving.

“By making these ratings public we’re giving patients the power to choose the best place for their care – and driving hospitals to raise their game.”

The FFT was first introduced to A&E and inpatient services and has since been rolled out to GPs, maternity, mental health and community services and to NHS staff, with plans for more services to follow from April 1 this year.

Examples of improvements to services prompted by feedback from FFT include:

In Wessex, a GP practice taking part in an FFT pilot last year responded to patient feedback about there not being enough appointments by extending evening surgeries, creating an extra 1,300 slots per year but they also used it as an opportunity to remind patients about the high number of lost appointments caused by patients failing to turn up (28 doctor appointments and 23 nurse appointments in one month alone).

Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust put in place a range of changes last year based on what their patients said about their hospital stays. These included installing wi-fi around the site so that patients could entertain themselves and stay in contact with their family and friends via social media; extending visiting hours for patients’ partners and buying a special chair to ensure stroke victims with poor upper body tone can still use the showers.

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