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12th September 2014

Friends and Family Test

Filling Out FormsFFT

A couple of years ago, we volunteered to be a pilot practice for the new Friends and Family Test (FFT). The simple one question questionnaire asked patients whether they would recommend us to their friends and family if they needed similar care or treatment. Patients were invited to respond to the question by choosing one of six options, ranging from "extremely likely" to "extremely unlikely". They also had the opportunity to explain why they had given their answer. The aim was for patients provide feedback on the care and treatment they receive and to improve services.

Under the General Practice Contract changes 2014-15, from 1st December all GP Practices will be expected to collate responses from patients and report the findings monthly. Only the likelihood needs to be reported, the publishing of comments will be optional and based on patient consent.

Are two questions really enough?

Are two questions really enough to evaluate the multifaceted package of contacts and interactions that determine patient’s experience of healthcare? It would be difficult to see how answers to the initial basic question could drive improvement and if it would actually be a reliable performance measure. When we took part in the pilot we received very few responses and, based on the varied range of likelihood recommendations we found it very difficult to determine useful feedback from it each month.

Consider your second questions

Whilst it is mandatory for Practices to ask patients whether they would recommend us there must also be one other open ended question. This could be as simple as asking ‘why?’, or ‘why did you select your answer?’. Patients have told us they get fed up of answering questionnaires and in my view less is definitely more.

Following on from our recent visit from the CQC we decided to ask two open ended questions:

  1. What do you like about our Practice?
  2. What areas do you think we could improve?

These two simple questions will hopefully prompt patients into highlighting what we do well, in addition to what we could do better. Although we don’t need to start participating in the FFT until December or report the findings until January 2015 we have already started to ask these questions and have also put the FFT questions on our website. This will enable us to get an early view of patient feedback.

What to do with the results

When the CQC team discussed with me the new inspection regime from October 2014, they commented on the need for Practices to demonstrate not only that they were good but also that they provided outstanding services. We hope that by also focusing on what patients like about our services we can further explore these areas and determine where we really are outstanding. We are currently documenting every thank you we receive including messages, letters, cards, and gifts. Based on feedback so far I’m confident that the thanks we receive will far outweigh the complaints received and that can have such a positive effect on staff morale.


NHS England FFT

NHS Choices

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Alison Lowerson

GP Specialist

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