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Hang out the tinsel! The Friends and Family test is here

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Only 14 days to go. No, before you have a cluster-click on Amazon, I’m not talking about how long you have left for Christmas shopping. I’m referring to when FFT kicks off.

In fact, I bring you glad tidings of great joy. Because the Friends and Family test just got friendlier, and more familiar. I know this, because I’ve seen some explanatory blurb, gift-wrapped direct from NHS England.

Let me give you the highlights.

- The FFT data is not viewed in the same light as other survey data. It is not a stick with which do beat us about the head. It’s not even a proper stick.

- Practices are perfectly entitled to pro-actively seek responses from specific patients (you know who they are, and where they live) to engineer positive feedback. In fact, one of the FFT’s advantages, the DoH now points out, is that it could be used as a tool to improve staff morale.

- The real strength of the FFT lies in the free text follow-up questions. Apparently. So maybe we’ll put those first. And forget the other one.

- The DoH will set no targets for data collection. That’s right, ‘no targets’. No threshold which will trigger a visit from the clipboard brigade. Remember those days? It’s making me well up.

Now that, you have to admit, is seasonally jolly, isn’t it?

Or, if you prefer to be Scrooge like, you could say that even the DoH seems to be admitting that this is a half-arsed, half-survey cooked up by those with half a brain that no one is taking seriously but which might just give us a morale boost if we gameplay, which is fine, by the way, be our guest.

Whatever. It’s certainly made me more relaxed about the whole thing.

And the icing on the cake? If The Great Escape’s not on at Christmas, I have an alternative: FFT, The Movie. Yes, it really exists. You can watch it. But it really doesn’t matter, you don’t have to.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield 

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Readers' comments (14)

  • Vinci Ho

    See . DoH is really Ministry of Trust and only interested in propaganda these days.....

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  • As a patient, I find the FFT convenient, because I can give an instant reaction to the treatment I am getting. I find however, that if it all goes swimmingly, I don't bother.
    I do fill it in if there is anything wrong,like more than 20 minute delay, or no board which shows if the doctor is behind schedule. Sometimes I fill in an FFT form if the doctor does not give me a physical examination, when I think one is necessary. Or if the treatment I have come for is more than 18 weeks after the original referral or investigation. (This has happened twice in two separate hospitals for BCCs removal, in the last two years.) I sometimes comment if the waiting room is dirty or overcrowded.

    In all, as you may have gathered that I, a humble patient find the FFT a splendid innovation, if the hospital or surgery takes it seriously, which, I suspect, some don't.

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  • Rather a shame you don't bother if everything goes swimmingly as it would seem you find time when it doesn't.

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  • So unfortunately if, as I imagine they will, all our patients take the same attitude as Mr Sarson at 2.32pm, then all we are going to get is critical feedback. Which might be unfortunate if the exercise is supposed to provide a morale booster. Luckily it looks as if we can pick and choose who we ask for feedback to make sure that our morale is massaged in a DoH approved manner. What a load of piffle!!!!!!!!

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  • What's the point of stroking the egos of doctors? Are their egos so frail? Isn't it more use to suggest ways they could improve?

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  • Yes, their egos are frail after the good kicking they have been subjected to by the government and the media. We can only take so much abuse which is why I am leaving my partnership aged 51.

    I am not alone. 40% of GPs are over 50. Enjoy the your health care without doctors.

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  • of course it can be helpful to know of things that can improve Richard, but it's also helpful to know of things that go well so this can be encouraged also. would you not agree? Its useful to get an idea of how often things are bad compared to good rather than only ever hearing the bad. how isolated an incident are the issues that pop up.

    It should neither be an ego stroking exercise nor simply a negative bashing either, but I don't think many people feel confident that it will be anything other than one of those depending on how its run

    Unfortunately I think GP morale these days is so poor that nobody really feels they want to engage in this currently. We just don't have the energy to do ANOTHER thing for the political whims

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  • Richard, You appear to be focussing on the negatives and almost happy to find issues to report on FFT. This is compounded when you state you wouldn't report positive issues. Using common sense is helpful such as the waiting room has probably been full of children all day....... and the Dr running late has been trying to transfer a patient to inpatients, so on & so on. Changes about minor points seldom occur from telling people what they have done wrong. When you tell us what you liked about our practice and what we have done right, that is when we feel motivated & valued.

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  • have our relationships with patients deterioriated so much that we need an FTT to speak to one another!

    Richard I love your points, as I think that they are valid, but imagine if we lived in a world whereby you could just straight tell me or my team that things aren't right.

    imagine if I could then be able to apologise to you and then explain why I was late that day, and then reassure you that I was not going to rush you so that I could catch up on the rest of the list.

    why are outside groups and interests trying to get between the doctor and their patients.

    - anonymous salaried!

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  • I have left my partnership aged 52

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From: Copperfield

Dr Tony Copperfield is a jobbing GP in Essex with more than a few chips on his shoulder