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‘Friends and family test’ to be rolled out for GP practices

The DH has asked the NHS Commissioning Board to come up with proposals on how the Government’s ‘friends and family test’ can be rolled out to GP practices over the next 18 months.

The plans may include asking patients to respond to the question on the internet once they have used the practice.

The ‘friends and family test’ was included in the Government’s NHS Mandate in November for hospitals and care homes and asks how likely patients are to recommend a particular NHS service to friends and family if they needed similar care or treatment.

But it has emerged that the NHS Commissioning Board is also investigating ways to carry out the test for GP practices including inviting patients to answer the question on the internet after using a GP practice.

The DH test will be rolled out for acute hospital inpatients and accident and emergency patients from April 2013, for women who use maternity services from October 2013 and ‘as soon as possible after October 2013’ for all those using NHS services.

The DH said it does not know yet when plans will be actually implemented, but that it will be good for GPs, as it allows them to get feedback almost on a real time basis.

A DH spokesperson said: ‘In the next 18 months the NHS Commissioning Board will investigate ways of carrying out the test for GP practices which are cheaper than that used for other settings.

‘This could include asking patients to respond to the question on the internet once they have used the practice.’

But GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden warned that the test will not reflect the reality of GP care.

He said: ‘This is trite trouble from politicians who have never done a real job. If GPs are expected to exercise a degree of social control, that is very different from flogging widgets at Woolworths, it’s not selling hamburgers at McDonald’s with a faux have-a-nice-day smile on your face.

‘We are being asked to say things to patients they don’t want to hear, and that is not meaning it is bad medicine or you’re a bad doctor.’