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PM pledges to roll out friends and family test for GPs ‘as soon as possible’

The Prime Minister has pledged to roll out the routine recording of a new patient satisfaction measure to GP practices ‘as soon as possible’, with all patients asked if they would recommend the practice to their family or friends.

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

The test will be rolled out for acute hospital inpatients and accident and emergency patients from April 2013 and for women who use maternity services from October 2013.

The NHS Commissioning Board was given responsibility for rolling out the friends and family test in the Government’s NHS Mandate - published in November.

Plans to extend the test to GPs have come under fire from the GPC leaders, who argued that GPs cannot always give each patient what they want and are therefore unlikely to be recommended by all patients.

In an announcement today, David Cameron said he wants the test to be rolled out to GP surgeries ‘as soon as possible’.

He said: ‘I want to see patients given a real voice in deciding whether that care is good enough or not. So from April, we will introduce a friends and family test and patient led inspections across all hospitals.

‘The test is a simple measure but crucially will show whether there is a basic standard of dignity, cleanliness and respect. And I want the NHS to go further, with GP surgeries, district nursing and community hospitals using the test to improve the care they provide as soon as possible.’

A DH spokesperson was not able to confirm when the test would be implemented for GPs.

Dr Mark Porter, chair of BMA Council, said: ‘Doctors, and the NHS generally, welcome feedback from patients and their families. However, the Friends and Family test that has been piloted so far is based on a model developed to test satisfaction with consumer products. We would like to see a full evaluation of the pilot before it is rolled out more widely, as there may be better ways of getting useful information from patients in a form that allows the NHS to improve services.’