The Friends and Family Test (FFT) is an important feedback tool that supports the fundamental principle that people who use NHS services should have the opportunity to provide feedback on their experience.
It asks people if they would recommend the services they have used and offers a range of responses. When combined with supplementary follow-up questions, the FFT provides a mechanism to highlight both good and poor patient experience. This kind of feedback is vital in transforming NHS services and supporting patient choice.
Launched in April 2013, the FFT question has been asked in all NHS inpatient and A&E departments across England and, since October 2013, all providers of NHS funded maternity services. In its first year, more than 2 million individual responses were given.
The FFT is now being rolled out to an extra seven areas of NHS care making the opportunity to leave feedback possible in almost all NHS services. From 1 December 2014, the FFT will be available in GP practices, from January 2015 in mental health and community services and from 1 April 2015, it will be expanded to NHS dental practices, ambulance services, patient transport services, acute hospitals outpatients and day cases.
The feedback gathered through the FFT is being used in NHS organisations across the country to stimulate local improvement and empower staff to carry out the sorts of changes that make a real difference to patients and their care.
While the results will not be statistically comparable against other organisations because of the various data collection methods, FFT will continue to provide a broad measure of patient experience that can be used alongside other data to inform service improvement and patient choice.
Publishing results of the Friends and Family Test
The results of the FFT are published at monthly intervals on both NHS England andNHS Choices websites.
What is the FFT question?
The FFT question is set out within the guidance for each area of care. For General Practice this is:
“We would like you to think about your recent experience of our service. How likely are you to recommend our GP Practice to friends and family if they needed similar care or treatment?”
The response options are as follows: extremely likely; likely; neither likely nor unlikely; unlikely; extremely unlikely; and don’t know.
The FFT must also include at least one follow-up, free-text question after the standard question.
Suggested questions include: What was good about your visit? What would have made your visit better? Can you tell us why you gave that response?
It is strongly recommended that patients are asked demographic questions which allow providers to monitor whether the feedback received is representative of their patient population. The demographic questions asked should be relevant to the patient population and help providers respond well to their equalities duties but also consider the principle of keeping the FFT as short and simple as possible.
In determining which questions should be asked, providers should give consideration to all nine of the characteristics given protection under the Equality Act 2010. These are:
Marriage and Civil Partnership
Pregnancy and Maternity
Religion or Belief