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The Foundation responds to publication of the Government’s Friends & Family Test

30 July 2013

Jocelyn Cornwell, Director of The Point of Care Foundation, commented on the Friends and Family Test published today.

“The Point of Care Foundation believes passionately in improving the experience ofpatients, and we applaud the Government in seeking to do that. We just don’t believe this is the right test to measure patient satisfaction or provide meaningful information to health services.

“Collecting feedback is really important, but the question patients are asked, and the way it is collected, doesn’t make sense.

“The way in which the data for the friends and family test is collected varies widely and is open to gaming. People who respond are not part of a random sample, but are self selecting or worse, are encouraged to respond by staff. Clearly there is a temptation for staff to encourage responses from patients who they feel will respond positively, especially as a positive result is linked to financial reward.

“Also, the information provided is not meaningful. We know that patients are more likely to be positive when they’re in hospital than when they’re at home.

“There are good reasons for that – people feel vulnerable in hospital and worry that if they say something negative, it will rebound on them.

“If someone does respond negatively, we don’t know if it is because they had difficulty with car parking or received poor care. Those are two very different issues that require different responses.

“Some hospitals were using much better methods of collecting feedback. But they’ve had to abandon what they were doing and replace it with this rather blunt instrument. Which is not good for patients, or for developing useful information to improve health services.

“We would ask the Government to think again about how more useful information on the experiences of patients could be collected and used to improve services.”

Note to editors

The Point of Care Foundation is an independent charity that was founded in April this year, having previously been situated as a programme within The King’s Fund. It offers practical tools, including Schwartz Center Rounds®, to help improve the culture of health and care organisations. Its aim is to become an expert resource, providing information and evidence of what works to improve patient experience and staff engagement.

For further information, members of the media can contact Creina Lilburne on 07941 156 827.