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

I have read this article with interest and following a discussion with the Head of Patient Experience I have been asked to respond on the Trust’s behalf.

As the Patient Experience Manager at an Acute Trust which embraces the Friends and Family Test and appreciates its value in harnessing real time patient feedback, I would like to comment further.

Whilst I agree that there is some work to be undertaken in respect of significantly reducing the volume and cost of measurements currently being used and enforced in health care, it should be recognised that there would have been substantial cost in the initial set up of the Friends and Family Test (FFT), which would of course subsequently reduce once FFT was embedded in NHS funded provider services, (as is referenced in the article). FFT is now embedded, patients and staff are aware of it and to make the test non-mandatory would effectively be wasting public monies already spent on its commission. There is a requirement for a mandatory patient experience feedback tool and it makes no sense to introduce a different tool thereby incurring further substantial set up costs; consequently this would disengage NHS staff who have now become familiar with FFT.

It is sad to hear that the recent evaluation in primary care found widespread unease about FFT, with many staff perceiving it to be purely a tool for national bodies to monitor them. Our Trust has a culture where patients expect to be given the opportunity to feedback and the NHS staff value and act upon patient needs and wishes, staff receive recognition for their hard work which improves staff morale. This has come about by embracing FFT by engaging with staff, promoting FFT via the Communications Department and organising re-launches. One only has to look at the success of Trip Advisor to recognise the value of FFT. Patients wish to see reviews from ‘people like me;’ FFT facilitates this. A tool is only as successful as its implementation and NHS providers are accountable for this.

The FFT qualitative and quantitative data, together with the patient comments are both used as measures of performance and local enablers of quality improvement, this data is triangulated with other sources of patient feedback.

There is work to be done with the format of FFT which will further enhance its value and since ‘stopping central data collection is not an option’, I personally feel that it would be very sad if FFT, “the biggest source of patient opinion in the world” was no longer mandatory.

Jayne Kenyon
Patient Experience Manager
North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust

Competing interests: No competing interests

31 January 2018
Jayne N Kenyon
Patient Experience Manager
North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust