Friends and family test introduced for GPs by 2015

GP leaders have said that the friends and family test, which looks set to be rolled out across general practice by 2015, should not become a bureaucratic burden, implemented 'for no good reason'.

Dr Richard Vautrey: ‘We need to understand how the test will work in practice.'
Dr Richard Vautrey: ‘We need to understand how the test will work in practice.'

NHS England has said that 30% of hospital trusts have to improve their friends and family test scores by next year.

Its three-year plan called Putting Patients First: the NHS England business plan for 2013/14 – 2015/16 published on Monday, said that test will be introduced for 100% of hospital inpatients and A&E patients this month, and for maternity patients from October 2013.

The plan promised that ‘all NHS-funded patients will have the opportunity to leave feedback in real time on any service by 2015’.

The controversial quality premium will be paid to CCGs in part on the basis of ‘friends and family test development’, it said. Payment is made in 2014/15 and requires improvement between quarter 1 in 2013/14 and quarter 1 2014/15.

It also said that from 2014/15, the payment – likely to be worth up to £30,000 for the average practice – will include mental health measures.

NHS England confirmed that no CCG will receive the payment if it has overspent its approved ‘resource limit’ in 2013/14.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘We need to understand how the test will work in practice. It should not become a bureaucratic burden for no good reason. The patient satisfaction survey costs £1m and it has shown the same results. When the NHS is strapped for cash, we need to ask if this is the best way to spend money.’

The plan also promised to ‘improve the skills of practitioners in primary care through the development of robust workforce planning’.

When asked how the DH could boost GP numbers, Dr Vautrey said: ‘It can stop imposing contracts on us for a start. The two key things is morale in general practice and ensuring the difference in pay for being a consultant and a GP doesn’t widen any further.’

The plan said that performance management of primary care would be developed through a ‘single operating model’.

A primary care patient safety board is also being set up to develop a ‘comprehensive primary care patient safety strategy’ which NHS England said will feed into the overall primary care strategy.

A ‘choice and competition framework’ is due to be published in July 2013 for how CCGs ‘can use choice and competition as levers to improve standards of care’. It said this will include 'guidance on any qualified provider (AQP) contracts’.

The plan also re-iterated the DH’s plans to roll out the GP choice pilots and said it ‘will move towards a more equitable system of GP practice funding to support patient choice’.

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