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Q&A: The Friends and Family Test

Pulse: How and when do patients need to be surveyed? 

NHS England has said it will not mandate specific ways in which GPs should survey patients. But patients should be made aware that the opportunity to provide feedback is available, which is easily done using a poster or leaflet campaign. 

The guidance says patients could be asked after consultations, home visits, phone and Skype or email consultations, or via repeat scripts, and it even covers patients who wait for urgent care but leave before being seen. 

GPs must report on how many patients submit via each method chosen by the practice. But practices can ‘proactively seek feedback from specific patients’ if they wish.

Also, the guidance says any patients seeing other providers at the surgery (such as counsellors) don’t need to do the FFT.

Pulse: How many tests should we do per month? 

NHS England has said it won’t set a target response rate, nor does it mention a minimum threshold per 1,000 patients. However, it has said it will publish the percentage of responses that praised the practice, as well as its list size, to give patients an idea of how representative responses have been.

Pulse: What data should we submit?

It’s expected that CQRS will be the preferred method. The exact format has not been specified.  

Pulse: How will NHS England prevent ‘gaming’?

NHS England has said the FFT is not an official assessment or performance measure. It has therefore not set out any plans to prevent gaming of the system.

Pulse: What about patients who attend a practice do not wait to be seen – do they need to be asked to give feedback via FFT, and could this be done by displaying a poster?

NHSE: The practice does not have to proactively ask patients to provide feedback, but the opportunity should be available to any patient that wants to.  A poster in the surgery, leaflets or a feedback posting box etc will help inform patients that they can provide feedback.

Pulse: Should these patients be logged somehow?

NHSE: As we are not collecting figures for the number of people who could have provided feedback, we would not expect a practice to log and personally invite them to give feedback. If the practice did decide it particularly wanted to find out why patients do not wait to be seen, of course it could take some action to offer them the opportunity to provide feedback.

Pulse: The guidance states that CQRS is the ‘preferred’ method of data collection – what alternative are there?

NHSE: The submission route for all practices will be the CQRS. This has been agreed with the GPC and a dedicated FFT submission system is being developed as part of CQRS. Further guidance on how to submit data will be published within the next few weeks.

Clearly a data collection of this size could only have a single route – at the time of publishing the guidance we were still considering what that would be – and we have never considered allowing alternative methods.