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Hang out the tinsel! The Friends and Family test is here

Only 14 days to go. No, before you have a cluster-click on Amazon, I’m not talking about how long you have left for Christmas shopping. I’m referring to when FFT kicks off.

In fact, I bring you glad tidings of great joy. Because the Friends and Family test just got friendlier, and more familiar. I know this, because I’ve seen some explanatory blurb, gift-wrapped direct from NHS England.

Let me give you the highlights.

– The FFT data is not viewed in the same light as other survey data. It is not a stick with which do beat us about the head. It’s not even a proper stick.

– Practices are perfectly entitled to pro-actively seek responses from specific patients (you know who they are, and where they live) to engineer positive feedback. In fact, one of the FFT’s advantages, the DoH now points out, is that it could be used as a tool to improve staff morale.

– The real strength of the FFT lies in the free text follow-up questions. Apparently. So maybe we’ll put those first. And forget the other one.

– The DoH will set no targets for data collection. That’s right, ‘no targets’. No threshold which will trigger a visit from the clipboard brigade. Remember those days? It’s making me well up.

Now that, you have to admit, is seasonally jolly, isn’t it?

Or, if you prefer to be Scrooge like, you could say that even the DoH seems to be admitting that this is a half-arsed, half-survey cooked up by those with half a brain that no one is taking seriously but which might just give us a morale boost if we gameplay, which is fine, by the way, be our guest.

Whatever. It’s certainly made me more relaxed about the whole thing.

And the icing on the cake? If The Great Escape’s not on at Christmas, I have an alternative: FFT, The Movie. Yes, it really exists. You can watch it. But it really doesn’t matter, you don’t have to.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield