Friends & Family Test

What is the Friends and Family Test?

The NHS Friends and Family Test (FFT) was created to help service providers and commissioners understand whether patients are happy with the service provided, or where improvements are needed. It's a quick and anonymous way to give your views after receiving NHS care or treatment.

Since the FFT was launched in 2013, millions of patients have submitted feedback. It's used by most NHS services, including community care, hospitals, mental health services, maternity services, GP and dental practices, emergency care, and patient transport.

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We read all the feedback that we receive from the Friends and Family Test and we always do our best to make changes to improve the service where this is possible within our limited resources.

Some replies to recent feedback include:

Q: Can we have more prebookable GP appointments
A1: Starting in May 2023 we have opened many more prebookable GP appointments, however we realise that these do fill very rapidly as the demand is so high.  We have also opened up Engage Consult, an online tool on our website that accepts a limited number of non-urgent medical and administrative enquiries as an alternative to calling us. 

By having more appointments available in advance, it affects the number of appointments we are able to offer on the day.  We balance the availabilty as best we are able according to the number of clinical team members available on any particular day.  There is a limit to the number of safe interactions our clinicans can support each day.  No one wants a tired clinician to make an error.
Q: Can we have more phone lines?
A1: Our phone system has unlimited lines.  We have as many staff as we are able, available to answer the phones in the morning.  This number varies day to day according to sickness and holidays so sometimes it will take longer to answer than other times.  We are limited by desk space and costs and have recruited the maximum team capacity that we are able.  There can be over 300 people calling at the same time during busy periods.
A2: We have an alternative online route to contact us for non-urgent clinical and administrative enquiries called Engage Consult.  Patients are able to register with this service and send us queries online or via the NHS App.  This is an alternative to the telephone and not for 'additional' work as it is not safe or feasible for us to work above our daily safety limits.  These queries will be triaged in the same way as telephone calls and will be allocated to the relevant team for response as with our telephone queries.
A3: As an example of the improvements to the phone system, during October 2023, people choosing to use the call-back feature on the phone system collectively saved 550 hours of time by using the virtual queue and not needing to wait on the phone.
Q: Can we chase hospital appointments / surgery dates more
A: Unfortunately there is very little that we can done once we have made a referral into the hospital system.  The best option for patients is to contact the hospital directly.  We have no additional power to bring appointments forward and we do not have enough staff to make calls on behalf of patients for this.

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