Giving feedback about our healthcare: The NHS Friends and Family Test

Information for patients on the Friends and Family TestI’ve written this blog to explain what the NHS Friends and Family Test is, and how we can use this to give feedback on our experiences of using the NHS.

You are likely to see posters, leaflets and feedback forms at the moment if you go into hospital as an inpatient, to an outpatient specialist service, your GP surgery, or your dentist.

I had a hospital appointment today, so I completed the quick form afterwards. I felt respected and wanted to give that feedback, as I haven’t always felt that in the past. I’ve put this blog post in the “Campaigning” section of my blog because I think it’s an easy and effective way of providing constructive feedback to improve the services we use, as it’s important that we have a good experience, where we have felt respected and treated well.

The Friends and Family Test is a quick, easy, and anonymous way of providing feedback. All it involves is thinking about the answer to the question:

“How likely are you to recommend our service to friends and family if they needed similar care or treatment?”

You can rank your answer from “extremely likely” to “extremely unlikely”, and underneath this on the form is a comments box if you would like to expand on your answer or make recommendations.

The short cartoon below shows how the Friends and Family Test works. There’s no speech in it, so you can have the sound off if your M.E. makes you sensitive to noise. To find out how the feedback is used or any other aspect, visit the NHS Choices Friends & Family Test page.

What if you’d like to make a formal complaint instead?

Like many people with M.E., I have had very mixed treatment in the NHS and bad experiences can stay with us as painful memories. I have used the NHS Complaints Procedure, and I found it a good way to get an apology, make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to other patients, and get some closure about being treated unfairly.

To find out more about how to make a complaint and getting help to do this from the NHS Complaints Advocacy Service, see the NHS Choices page Tips on how to make a complaint.

It can be difficult to stand up for ourselves when we’re ill with M.E., so the Action for M.E. self-advocacy resource, Nothing about M.E. without me, also contains specific useful advice for people with M.E. about our rights in health and social care, how to get our needs met effectively, and how to make complaints.

2 thoughts on “Giving feedback about our healthcare: The NHS Friends and Family Test

  1. I make it a policy of doing these questionnaires whenever I can get my hands on them, both good and bad (Since I always get the feeling that most people are more likely to do them with a complaint than with praise).

    First one was to say “Definitely do not reccommend”, and was about a nurse who was doing a blood draw for tests, and who whilst failing to find a vein on my right arm decided to stroke (!) the SI scars on my left arm and ask me very probing questions about them whilst pinning my other hand to the table so I couldn’t bat her away or back off. Long, long, both-sides-of-the-paper response, which got a notice passed around the staff to the effect of “DO NOT DO THIS. EVER.”

    So that was a good result, and it was a lot less daunting than making a formal complaint that I’d have to follow around and put my name to.

    The other one was basically a litany of praise for a very very good physiotherapist, which I hope will have either got the department to train more physios to be like her, or at least to have brightened up her day. But in general – If you only ever tell people what not to do, it’ll take them a while to work out to do. So it’s good to also tell them when they’ve done something really right too.

    Rather glad that they’re still pushing these. Aside from the slightly silly “Would you reccommend this service to a friend?” idea (Would you reccommend A+E to a friend? If their leg is hanging on by a thread, there’s not really much choice, is there?) they’re a good way of getting people to think not just “Did I find this acceptable?” but “Would this service be acceptable to a hypothetical person?” which often makes them think more about actual quality, and thus what really needs improving or commending.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Percy, really useful to hear your experiences, and I’m sure health professionals reading this will appreciate both what went well, and what certainly not to do in those circumstances. Like you, I think it’s important to give feedback when things go well too and explain why, as this really helps just as much as pointing out where things have gone wrong. Thanks for also explaining the Friends and Family Test as “Would this service be acceptable to a hypothetical person?” – I was trying to think of a way to describe it but my word-finding isn’t good today and that is spot on! Thanks again for taking the time to give such a comprehensive comment 🙂


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