Criticism and concern around the use of the Friends and Family Test has centred on three issues: the question being asked, the way it is administered, and the use of the data.
The report examines whether the NHS England review, and its recommendations, go far enough to address existing concerns about the FFT.
The review’s headline message is that the test is most suitable as a tool for service improvement. As a result it is most valuable when accompanied by free text patient responses and most successful when its implementation is supported by a culture of patient centred care and by the resources and capacity to deliver this. The policy briefing highlights this finding as a positive development that represents a clear repositioning of FFT by NHS England away from its use for comparing performance between services.
However, despite the acknowledgement that FFT data is not directly comparable across providers, the review does not recommend doing away with the publication of scored results altogether. Instead, it recommends replacement of the current reported FFT headline metric with one of three new metrics. These include a star rating system akin to that used by Amazon and Trip Advisor; the percentage of people likely to recommend the service; or a positive and negative metric, representing the number likely and unlikely to recommend. The policy briefing argues that patients need more robust information to support their decisions about healthhcare services.
The report also identifies that the NHS England review does not go far enough in addressing concerns around the lack of public awareness and understanding of the FFT.
The Picker Institute policy briefing can be read here.