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GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

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)

  • Abdul QADRI

    Reading few comments , it seems to me that there is no appetite for partnerships now due to barrage of media criticism created by the so called reformers like CQC. As has been pointed out already , what is the point of FFT feedbacks since some of the trouble patients use it against the Doctors. So they have no choice but to play it safe & get such surveys done with so called loyal patients & the survey results will be fantastic. This is all nonsense , the good old on the spot problem solving is the way forward. This certainly strengthens the Doctor - Patient relationship in the long term without the unnecessary involvement of outsides bodies & that has got to increase the overall Doctor morale. If Govt don't stop experimenting on Gps with new tools almost every 6 months , things will get bad to worse. We will end with Salary & locum Gps who will not be prepared to listen to the beaurocrates. They will work for their particular session or hours & leave the rest boring administrative stuff for the non clinician to sort out. That is going to finish the gps as we knew it in the UK & were proud of it. I worked in the GP as a successful Single handed practitioner for nearly 32 years & had to retire due to extreme stress that affected my health. However I had planned to return to do few sessions as locum's or in the management to contribute in any way since General practice has been so close to my heart. After seeing the recent handling of the GP practices by the so called reformers like CQC , am disappointed & decided to watch the whole sargar at a distance. Some how , total frustration forced me to write these comments today.

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  • Perhaps if the government had listened and responded to patients complaints if the first place we wouldn't need 'big brother' breathing fire down the neck of every GP.

    When I am not happy, or am delighted with the care I get via my GP practice, I write to them and tell them directly, I do not go around the houses telling everyone else as the only people who can make a change, are those that are in my practice ... and I have always been very satisfied with outcomes ... and remembering to say 'thank you' fro quality care is always appreciated.

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  • I too make a point of showing my appreciation in person, when I get good treatment. In fact my comments about FFT were about hospitals, not GPs. (My GP does not do FFT.)

    In fact, what I like about my GP surgery is:
    I can always get an appointment on the day.
    The receptionist is always helpful, and the staff generally appear relaxed. (None are about to retire early or get on a plane for Australia.)
    I never have to wait more than half an hour.
    My named GP is happy to spend half an hour or more about our "co-morbidities', when it is needed.
    My GP has saved my life twice in the last 20 years by prompt diagnosis.


    By the way, about two years ago, Pulse ran a survey of whether its GP readers would recommend their local hospital, and I seem to remember that only about 25% would. So, GPs, although hyper-sensitive themselves, are quite happy to criticize other doctors!

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  • Three other good things about my GP I forgot to mention:
    She listens very attentively to what I have to say.
    She balances her attention to me with checking up what my record says on her computer, and writing the notes on my visit immediately. All done seamlessly.
    There is no paper in her surgery. All the paper from hospitals is scanned in on arrival. The surgery has been paperless for ten years.

    She and her colleagues in the practice are almost faultless diagnosticians.

    The question I always ask myself is "if my GP practice is this good, why can't other GPs do as well"?

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From: Copperfield

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