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‘Early adopter’ GPs begin using friends and family test

Exclusive GP practices across England have begun trials of the ‘friends and family’ test this week in order to assess whether patients would recommend their services.

NHS England told Pulse that a group of 36 ‘early adopter’ practices began trials of the test yesterday, in testing that is expected to last for three months.

But NHS England would not be drawn on how the test will be conducted, adding that the practices were encouraged to develop their own strategies for how to best collect the feedback from patients. It also said there would be no formal reporting and that the results of the unofficial trials would ‘not be published’.

The one-question test - where patients are asked after each use of an NHS service whether they would recommend that service to a friend or family member - was derived by the coalition Government to raise standards in light of the Francis Inquiry into the failings at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

It was rolled out in hospitals earlier this year and will be extended to GP practices by the end of next year. GP leaders have warned it could be used to ‘beat up’ GPs.

Commenting on the trials, an NHS England spokesperson said they were committed to implementing the friends and family test to all GP practices ‘by the end of 2014’.

She added: ‘It is clear that different requirements may be needed for the delivery of the friends and family test to primary care, so a number of primary care providers have volunteered to be early adopter sites, and are carrying out some early trialling as part of the process of developing methodology and guidance.

‘They are not reporting formal results, and the data will not be published nationally, but the insights gained will be vital in designing the primary care friends and family test to make it fully meet the needs of both patients and GPs in driving service improvement.’

Collette Connolly, locality development manager for the Bradford Districts CCG said they were one of the areas where GP practices had volunteered to be part of the trial.

Commenting ahead of the trial period starting, she said: ‘Yes we have identified some practices who will be taking part in the trial for the Friends and Family Test in general practice. The trial starts on the 1 October for three months so I don’t have any updates as yet.

‘We have six practices who are hoping to take part and they are in the process of preparing for the trial by ordering materials and communicating with their practice team and their patient groups.’