Friends and Family Test

What is it and why do we do it?

Anyone using a service should be able to give feedback to the provider of that service. The NHS Friends and Family Test (FFT) is designed to be a quick and simple mechanism for patients and other people who use NHS services to give feedback, which can then be used to identify what is working well and to improve the quality of any aspect of patient experience.

The Friends and Family Test is made up a single mandatory default question followed by at least one open free-text question, so that people can tell us what they want us to know in their own words.

Each individual piece of feedback collected could draw attention to examples of good practice, an immediate issue, or themes that are emerging.  Teams should feel able, as the experts in their areas, to work out what can be done in response to the feedback and how to report internally on progress.

At national level, the data is used by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) during their inspections, by NHS England and NHS Improvement in their provision of support for quality improvement work and in producing data that informs the public about the quality of patient experience in their local services. This helps the NHS to be transparent and accountable.

Fundamental Principles of the NHS Friends and Family Test

There are some fundamental principles underpinning the Friends and Family Test:

  • All patients and people who use services have the right to provide anonymous feedback quickly and easily, when they want to.
  • The Friends and Family Test is a continuous feedback stream; it is not a one-off feedback opportunity or a traditional survey.
  • Parents, carers, volunteers or staff can give help to those who need it to give feedback – being careful that the feedback represents the views of the patient, not themselves.
  • There may be times when it is not appropriate or possible for the provider to ask for feedback through the Friends and Family Test, for example where it might cause distress. The patient or service user should still be able to give feedback if they want to.
  • The feedback should be used to celebrate and build on what is working well, as well as to identify areas where improvements could be made.
  • Results and information on changes resulting from the Friends and Family Test should be made readily available to the public and patients so that they can see that feedback is being listened to and acted on where possible.

All patients should have a voice in reflecting on services and supporting their improvement. Therefore, all patients should have the opportunity to provide feedback through the Friends and Family Test.

Why we collect demographic data

At the Trust we are committed to continually developing and improving care for patient’s families and carers. The Trust provides services to a diverse and multi-cultural community and our patients may fall within one or more demographic group.  To understand if the needs of the whole community and if their healthcare needs are being met we must ensure our feedback represents our local population.

We want everyone, no matter what their age; disability; ethnicity; sex; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; religion or belief; sexual orientation to be able to use our services easily. Asking demographic monitoring information allows us to ensure that we are being inclusive and to ensure that all opinions are valued and taken into consideration.  

The data we collect will be used to identify improvements that can be made to the Trust services and to ensure that they are delivered and are accessible to all, within our local population. 

How we have used demographic data to make changes

Understanding the local population has resulted in the Trust recruiting interpreters in three key languages to assist our non-English speaking patients as well as investing in alternative communication support methods for other groups of patients. This has made our services more accessible and allowed patients to make informed decisions on their care.

In 2018/2019 as a result of feedback from the local deaf community via various feedback vehicles including Friends and Family Test and complaints, a comprehensive change was made with the introduction of Signlive at the Trust. Signlive is an online British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation system which supports deaf people anywhere in the UK to communicate with anyone, at any time, using an app which connects to a qualified BSL interpreter. Should deaf patients want to communicate using this method and it is appropriate the service is now available Trust wide.

Without being able to identify these groups we would not be aware of these challenges and therefore be able to address the service gaps, the collection of demographic data supported this process.