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GPs to receive cash rewards for good performance on Friends and Family Test

GP practices will have financial incentives linked with their performance on the Friends and Family Test and patients will be able to complete the test online for all NHS services by 2015, says NHS England.

The NHS England business plan, published yesterday, said NHS patients will be asked to answer the test online that asks patients if they would recommend the care they received to their family or friends.

Chief executive Sir David Nicholson said that it would ensure that patient’s voices are heard, but the GPC questioned whether it was a cost-effective use of NHS resources.

NHS England said providers will be ranked on a scale of -100 to +100, taking into account the positive versus negative feedback from patients and will be updated monthly.

The test will be introduced for hospitals from this month, with a portion of the hospital performance payment system CQUIN in 2013/14 linked specifically to the payment, and confirmed that CCGs would have to show they had responded to the scores they received to gain their quality premium.

The document stated: ‘All NHS-funded patients will have the opportunity to leave feedback in real time on any service by 2015.’

‘The Friends and Family Test will be introduced for all acute hospital inpatients and Accident and Emergency patients from April 2013 and for women who have used maternity services from October 2013.’

‘CCGs will demonstrate what action they have taken as a consequence of feedback from the Friends and Family Test and work with providers on further roll-out from 2014-15.’

NHS England has set itself a target for the test to help ‘make rapid progress in measuring, understanding and acting on patient experience; and bids to ‘increase the proportion of people, across all areas of care, who rate their experience as excellent or very good’.

The document added: ‘We will use financial incentives to reward performance in relation to the Friends and Family Test.’

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said it was likely that the Friends and Family Test would form part of the GP contract in future.

He said: ‘It seems likely it will form part of the contract, but where it sits I don’t know.’

He added that the test is likely to be rolled out by 2015 because it is a political directive, but called for further debate on whether this was appropriate.

He said: ‘The fundamental question is: what added value will it bring? We have had patients surveys for years now and they have fed back results which hardly change year after year.

‘I don’t think practices are very concerned about patients giving them feedback but we need it done in a cost-effective and non-bureaucratic way.’

Earlier this year, the NHS Alliance also argued that the test ‘won’t add anything new’ to currently available patient feedback tools.

Writing in the foreword to the business plan NHS England chief executive David Nicholson, and chair Professor Malcolm Grant, said: ‘The Friends and Family Test will ensure patients’ and their families’ voices are heard and used to help us to deliver better services and guarantee no community is left behind or disadvantaged.’

‘Our key measures of success will be satisfied patients, and staff who feel positive about what they are doing.’

Pulse Live: 30 April - 1 May, Birmingham

You can find out more about how to protect your earnings at Pulse Live, Pulse’s new two-day annual conference for GPs, practice managers and primary care managers. Richard Apps, partner at RSM Tenon, will be presenting a session on how to maximise your practice income and keep an eye on your cash flow.

Pulse Live offers practical advice on key clinical and practice business topics, as well as an opportunity to debate the future of the profession, and a top range of speakers includes NICE chair designate Professor David Haslam, GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey and the Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell MP, chair of the House of Commons health committee.

To find out more and book your place, please click here.