A couple of weeks ago a colleague of mine, Matthew Mezey got in touch and made a general comment about making the Friends and Family test a real improvement loop for the NHS. To be honest I didn’t know what he was talking about as I hadn’t come across it..
What is the Friends and Family test?
The Friends and Family test is a single question survey from NHS England which asks patients whether they would recommend the NHS service they have received to friends and family who need similar treatment or care.
It’s an intriguing question and one I’m sure that we would have to mull over in some circumstances. For example, if you’ve have a traumatic experience you wouldn’t wish that on anyone? But what made it traumatic, was it the nature of the situation or was it the service you received? And just how do you define a good experience? Is it because you get what you want or you get what you need? Which of the many elements of a service do you judge the whole on? For example, we might have fabulous nurses but the treatment doesn’t solve the problem and vice versa.
As it happens, just a couple of days after chatting with Matthew I visited the dentist and there, on the counter, was a form to complete. I’ve added an image of it below so you can see what this particular one looked like. Yet, in the weeks prior to my dental visit I had been at the hospital for an eye test, I’d had three appointments at the opticians and seen my GP twice; not one of these places had a survey visible and I wasn’t asked either.
According to Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s National Director for Patients and Information, the friends and family survey is “biggest assessment of patient opinion by any health service in the world ever” … and yet I hadn’t heard of it.