THE NHS Friends and Family Test (FFT) reached a memorable milestone this month by achieving its ten millionth piece of feedback from patients.

Launched in April 2013 and now fully rolled out across the NHS, the FFT has allowed millions of patients to give invaluable feedback on their experiences of care and treatment in services throughout the NHS.

It has quickly grown into the biggest ever collection of patient opinion in any health service anywhere in the world and gives staff the ability to react promptly and make swift and lasting improvements to care provided.

St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has conducted over 40,000 surveys in the last 12 months. These have been far reaching across the Trust – including inpatient wards, outpatient clinics, community and maternity services.

On average, 90.3% of people are “Extremely likely” or “Likely” to recommend the service they received to a friend or relative.

By conducting the surveys using our own real time survey system we are able to act quickly on the information we receive, and correlate it with other patient experience data such as any complaints we have received.

We are currently using the feedback to focus on the three main issues raised by patients – minimising noise at night, being clearer about the possible side effects of medication we provide, and involving our patients more in the discharge process.

The FFT was first announced by the Prime Minister in January 2012 to give patients a real voice in deciding whether their care is good enough or not, with hospitals and other services able to take swift action to make necessary improvements.

Although the FFT helps identify areas such as these where improvements can be made, most of the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive across healthcare organisations and many of them report that it has provided an unexpected boost to staff morale and created many more opportunities to give well deserved appreciation to individual staff who have given excellent patient care.

Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s National Director for Patients and Information, said: “The Friends and Family Test has extended across the NHS over the past two years. It has become a key tool for providing healthcare providers and commissioners with real time feedback that helps them to hear their patients’ views and react quickly.

“The huge number of responses from patients shows that many people value the opportunity to have their say. It is helping to improve transparency in the NHS but also to drive real improvements in local services. Given the overwhelmingly positive scores that have been recorded, it is a huge vote of confidence and appreciation for the hardworking staff of the NHS across England.”

Health Minister for Care Quality, Ben Gummer, said: “We want the NHS to be the safest, most transparent and compassionate in the world. Feedback from the people who use and deliver services is key to this, so as well as bringing in new inspections, we are empowering patients and staff to give feedback that shapes how services are provided in the future.

“With over ten million responses so far, the Friends and Family Test is a litmus test of how patients rate their care and experience. It gives us a great insight into the NHS, including where things are going well and which areas need improvement. Ten million pieces of feedback is an important source of public opinion, so I’m pleased the Friends and Family Test has reached this important milestone, and look forward to it playing an ongoing role in the NHS’s culture of continual learning and improvement.”