NHS England has this week published updated guidance to help make the NHS’s biggest patient feedback tool, the Friends and Family Test (FFT), more inclusive.
The new guidance covers services across the NHS that are provided to children and young people – with special provisions for looked after children – as well as patients with learning disabilities, dementia, language and literacy issues or patients who are deaf or deafblind.
Since the original FFT guidance was published in July 2014, a number of providers have fed back on using it on healthcare’s frontline with patients in particular groups.
Much of the feedback was positive but some concerns were voiced. These included: (i) concerns about any distress/upset being caused to patients due to the way in which the standard FFT question can be interpreted by some of these patient groups; (ii) the burden on NHS staff in spending time explaining the standard question to patients in these groups; and (iii) the variation in supplementary information given within and across organisations as providers tried to adapt the standard question to meet the needs of their patients.
“It is important to get this right so that the NHS hears from all patients about the services they have experienced and how they can be improved”, said Tim Kelsey, national director for patients and information. “Patients in these particular groups are important and often regular users of healthcare services and their voices need to be heard as much as everyone else’s. We’re keen that healthcare providers continue to give us feedback on how well this is working.”
The changes in the updated guidance on making the FFT inclusive are due to be implemented from October 2015. However, it may be used before this time by organisations that are ready.