Headlines: October 7th, 2013

The simple test – answering the question “Would you recommend this service to your friends and family?” – will be extended to all NHS services in England, including mental health services, community nursing, and outpatient appointments by the end of March 2015.

The test will bring greater transparency to public services. The expectation is that it will help in driving up standards, inform user’s choice and hold providers to account. This extension of the Friends and Family Test will put more power in the hands of the public, allowing them to give clear and honest feedback on the services that peiple use every day.

The Friends and Family test is a survey which asks patients whether they would recommend the NHS service they have received to friends and family who need similar treatment or care. It also provides the opportunity for general feedback. The aggregate results are then published online, allowing service users to make comparisons between different providers, and hence driving up patient choice.

The test, which has been available in A&E and inpatient hospital wards since April 2013, allows hospital trusts to gain real time feedback on their services, down to ward level, and increases the transparency of NHS data to improve choice for patients and so drive up quality. The scale of the roll out and volume of feedback is the largest ever in the NHS. Existing national surveys, such as the National Inpatient Survey 2012, collected the views of 64,500 patients, whereas in the first 4 months the A&E and inpatients Friends and Family Test collected the views of more than half a million patients.

The test will also be extended to assess Jobcentre Plus services and the results will be incorporated into the next phase of the Work Programme. Later, further education courses and service providers of the youth scheme National Citizen Service will apply the test.

Extending the test further to the wider public service is under consideration.