NHS England launches new friends and family test as thousands give views on hospital services

31 July 2013

NHS England have published the first results of the NHS Friends and Family Test - the first time a national health service has published a single measure of patient satisfaction for every hospital.

Hundreds of thousands of people contributed to the results during April, May and June 2013 after staying in hospital as an inpatient or visiting an accident and emergency department.

They all answered one simple question: 'How likely are you to recommend our ward/A&E department to your friends and family if they needed similar care or treatment?'

NHS England will now publish monthly updates to ensure regular feedback about what patients think of services. It is hoped that over time millions of people will choose to participate.

The test was first announced by the Prime Minister in January 2012 and means that patients will now have a stronger voice in deciding whether their care is good enough or not - and hospitals will be able to take swift action to make any necessary improvements.

NHS England plans to extend the test to maternity services in October and to GP practices, community services and mental health services by end of December 2014, with all other NHS services following by the end of March 2015.

NHS Trusts will invite patients to provide more information so they can understand more deeply what they are being told.

They will get results quickly so they can respond promptly to what patients are saying, overcoming the time lags that often exist with the results of traditional surveys.

The publication was welcomed by Dr Gordon Coutts, Chief Executive at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Colchester's acute hospitals.

"These results are consistent with what our patients have been telling us," he said.

"We have consistently been in the top quarter of hospital trusts in the NHS Midlands and East area, and our most recent score, says that 81% of patients would recommend us.

"However, we will not be satisfied until every patient feels happy with the care they receive in our hospitals. We will study today's results in detail to identify areas where we can make further improvements. People can be assured that the Trust and its staff will continue to put patients, their safety and wellbeing at the heart of everything we do."

Publishing these results is part of the latest step towards improving transparency in the NHS. Transparency is the lever by which services will be transformed and is at the heart of the drive to improve quality for patients.

Kathy French, Acting Director of Nursing at the Trust, said: "Today's results show that the Trust has sustained the huge progress it had made since April last year when Colchester became the most improved acute hospital trust in the East of England, according to the Care Quality Commission's Survey of adult inpatients.

"Just as with the Keogh Report, our results also confirm that our hospitals are improving, but we understand that we need to make further changes and go on improving. The Trust's aim is to be at its best consistently so patient feedback like this supports further improvements towards achieving this ambition"

Details of the Friends and Family Test data for June 2013 were published on 30 July and can be found on the NHS Choices website (below). The FFT data for April, May and June for all Trusts is within the statistics page of the NHS England website.

See the latest Friends and Family Test summary for Colchester General Hospital and for Essex County Hospital (scroll down to "Quality of service" on the right-hand side of either page).

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