South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is rolling out the friends and family test – a month before all trusts have to comply with the government initiative.
The friends and family test requests patients to give honest feedback on the care they received when attending either the accident and emergency department, or their stay on one of the wards. The test aims to drive continuous improvements in the quality of the care received by NHS patients and the form takes only a couple of minutes to complete.
Patients have the opportunity to rate ‘How likely are you to recommend our ward / A&E department to friends and family if they needed similar care or treatment?’ There are six reply options ranging from extremely likely to extremely unlikely. A second question, where patients can write a few comments in reply to the question, asks: ‘What was good about your care, and what could be improved?’ The test also asks the age, gender and ethnicity of the patient, as well as whether they have any of a variety of long-standing conditions.
In the early stages of the programme the patients who will be surveyed will be those adult acute inpatients (including maternity patients), who have stayed at least one night in hospital and adult patients who have attended A&E and left without being admitted to hospital, or were transferred to a Medical Assessment Unit and then discharged.
All patients in these groups should be given an opportunity to respond by a member of staff who will hand out the test.
Therefore, initially, the test does not apply to day cases, outpatients, and patients under 16 years old. Nor does it currently apply to primary or community care services, though community services will implement the friends and family test during 2013/14.
The questionnaires are to be completed on the ward and posted in a ballot box as patients leave the ward or department. Alternatively, patients can give their feedback online.
The trust is hoping to receive at least 15% feedback rate. Trusts will be required to report nationally on: the total numbers of patients within the target group; the numbers given the opportunity to respond; numbers of responses and the breakdown of the response categories. The results of the test will be made available to the public so that patients can use the information to make choices about their care, champion their local trusts that excel and challenge others to improve.