GP friends and family test data to be published monthly from 2015

NHS England will publish data monthly on GP practices' performance in the Friends and Family test, guidance on the primary care roll-out of the scheme reveals.

Friends and Family test: GP poll data to be published monthly
Friends and Family test: GP poll data to be published monthly

Practices will also be required to publish findings from the test locally, possibly including free-text comments from patients.

In a letter to practices across England on Monday, NHS officials reiterated that introducing the test would become a contractual requirement from 1 December.

Practices will not be required to ask patients at the end of every consultation whether they wish to fill in a Friends and Family questionnaire, guidance from NHS England confirms.

Multiple responses

But patients can take part in the poll multiple times if they wish, and must be made aware that they can take part at any time.

No target will be set for the level of patient participation at each practice, but the guidance warns ‘NHS England is keen to see practices gain feedback from as many patients as possible’.

Monthly data on both the level of patient participation in the survey and satisfaction findings will be published by NHS England.

Practices are free to collect Friends and Family test data via any method they choose as long as they comply with a handful of key requirements.

Key question required

The test must offer patients the following question: ‘We would like you to think about your recent experiences of our service.

‘How likely are you to recommend our GP practice to friends and family if they needed similar treatment?’

Patients should be allowed to choose from the following responses: ‘extremely likely’, ‘likely’, ‘neither likely or unlikely’, ‘unlikely’, ‘extremely unlikely’, and ‘don’t know’.

The test must also contain a follow-up question that allows patients to give a free-text response – for this reason practices will not be allowed to conduct the test by offering patients a token to place in one slot or another to indicate their response.

The GPC has previously warned that the test must not become a bureaucratic burden for practices.

Newly elected GPC negotiator Dr Brian Balmer told GP that if bureaucracy was avoided, the test could be ‘a good thing’.

‘If it’s done properly, we could use it to boost morale – I don’t think people should be frightened of it.’

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