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Feature Data Briefing

Are “friends and family tests” useful: agree, disagree, neither, don’t know?

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 14 May 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2960
  1. John Appleby, chief economist
  1. 1King’s Fund, London, UK
  1. j.appleby{at}

The NHS is going to ask patients whether they would recommend their hospital or ward to others, despite public scepticism about the value of such feedback. John Appleby examines responses to similar questions asked to NHS staff

Family and friends tests—which ask consumers whether they would recommend a service or organisation to their families and friends—are an established method of obtaining feedback on performance for many private sector businesses. But how well is this sort of customer feedback suited to public services like the NHS?

The Department of Health not only thinks such feedback is suited to the NHS but has the figures to show that the benefits of the data gathered will outweigh the costs. The impact assessment shows a net monetised benefit of £29.6m (€35m; $46m).1 So, it looks like it’s worth doing—which is good, because it is being done. From this month patients attending emergency departments and patients staying overnight as inpatients will be asked whether they would recommend their hospital or ward to family or friends. The scheme is to …

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