Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Friends and family test should no longer be mandatory

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: (Published 29 January 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k367

Rapid Response:

Re: Friends and family test should no longer be mandatory

Thanks for the excellent article and for stimulating a debate that is, in my view, long overdue .

I should be upfront enough to admit that I’ve never had a particularly good relationship with the FFT. In my view, it’s a poorly understood question, asked at the wrong time, in a variety of different ways, that fails to adequately capture what really matters to patients. Non comparable data prevented me from learning from other organisations and gaming prevented me from trusting the stats that were nationally reported.

On implementation, we made a critical mistake of paying attention to the wrong things: prioritising response rates over learning & that legacy remains. Too much waste in 2017 is still tied up in feeding the beast, leaving exhausted staff with little time to focus on improvement.

Since 2009 within my own organisation, it has been my responsibility to build a comprehensive programme for enhancing person centred healthcare and I can honestly reflect that at no point have I looked to FFT data to help me with that task.

That said, it is not that long ago that most organisations had no experience feedback mechanisms at all. We don’t want to return to those days. If a cash starved system sees this as an opportunity to scale back and redirect resources elsewhere, we will, in my view, have failed our staff and our patients at a time when we have most to gain from understanding their views.

I like the idea of earned autonomy: if you’re able to demonstrate a better and more responsive approach to measuring and improving experience then you can opt out of FFT reporting. It would give organisations the flexibility they need to target vital resources at local priorities that matter.

Competing interests: No competing interests

30 January 2018
Annie Laverty
Director of patient experience / speech and language therapist
Northumbria healthcare nhs trust