One of the ways in which the NHS is working towards improving performance and care is through listening to patients and their families. The NHS Friends and Family Test was launched in April 2013 with the aim of encouraging patient feedback to show patients that their views and experiences matter to the NHS and to improve patient experience. The Test was designed to cover all NHS inpatients, outpatients and those attending A&E departments across acute, GP, community and mental health and dental services.
Patients and their families are asked "How likely are you to recommend our service to friends and family if they needed similar care of treatment?" The Test also asks NHS staff whether they would recommend their hospital as a place to work and be treated. Now fully rolled out across the NHS, the 10 millionth piece of patient feedback was received in August 2015.
A recent article in the Guardian has highlighted how two NHS Trusts are working to improve performance and patient care by improving the way they listen to patients and their families.
In March 2015, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust was awarded a "good" rating by the Care Quality Commission in all five categories (safe, effective, caring, responsive, well-led). Five years earlier, it was one of the worst performing NHS Trusts. According to the Trust's chief nurse, Fiona Allsop, the Trust's approach to patient feedback has been central to its improvement. "One of the reasons we've got there is by listening to our patients…"
The Trust supplements the national Friends and Family Test with a wider Your Care Matters survey for patients to respond online as well as in writing. The Trust's Twitter account has over 8,000 followers. As a result of patient feedback the Trust has made changes to its service such as providing herbal teas, making sure patients know that there are menu alternatives and providing headphones to patients. The Trust says that patient feedback not only helps improve services, it also builds staff morale. Patients can name individual members of staff who have done a good job with comments passed on to individual staff members.
Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust realised that not everyone wants to leave their thoughts in writing so it pioneered an iPad project where patients and their families can leave audio messages, video clips and notes. Along with its main Twitter account, some teams have their own Twitter accounts to communicate with specific patient groups.
Camilla Wonnacott of the Penningtons Manches clinical negligence team said: “Gathering and listening to feedback from patients and their families is a useful tool to help NHS service providers in the important task of improving their services to patients. Innovative ways of improving communication between patient and treatment provider are always welcome.”