With a fanfare and a tweet from Number 10, the curtain rises on the NHS Friends and Family rating system but what do the results mean?
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The Conservative MP for Weston-super-Mare has welcomed today's decision by the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to give Weston General Hospital's Accident and Emergency Department an additional £4.8m to deal with expected increases in demand this Winter.
John Penrose said he had campaigned for better health funding for Weston and the villages for years, and so have hospital staff and GPs too:
– John Penrose, Conservative MP for Weston-super-Mare.
They put together a really strong case, and it looks as though my former boss Jeremy Hunt has been listening. This kind of money will make a real difference for local people needing emergency medical care this winter, when pressure on the service is always high. It means patients don’t have to wait as long to be seen, and they’ll get faster, better treatment locally.
But Mr Penrose also said; 'It may not solve all our health funding problems, but it’s a huge step in the right direction, and it shows our message is getting through in Westminster.'
– Department of Health spokeswoman
The test and the scoring system has already been piloted successfully by some NHS trusts since 2012, and already led to lots of changes, including simple steps like increasing the amount of fruit on offer to patients during the day.
It's still early days for this test, but we know that it's fast, provides data down to ward level and patients can use it to make choices.
This is a real achievement."
Almost 700,000 patients were eligible to take the 'Friends and Family Test' in June 2013 to rate their Accident and Emergency service but only 10% completed the survey.
Almost two-thirds of patients would be extremely likely to recommend their accident and emergency ward in which they were treated to friends and family, according to a survey.
Results for for A&E departments in England for June showed:
- 62.6% would be extremely likely to recommend their A&E service
- 25.6% would be likely to recommend their A&E service
- 4.1% would be neither likely or unlikely to recommend their A&E service
- 2.4% would be unlikely to recommend their A&E service
- 3.2% would be extremely unlikely to recommend their A&E service
- 2.2% did not know
The "Friends and Family" test is not designed to point the finger at failing NHS hospitals, a health minister claimed.
Anna Soubry told ITV's Daybreak: "It's about finding out where there are failings within otherwise great performing hospitals.
"One of the things we do know is that some people can have an amazingly, brilliant experience when they use our NHS. Unfortunately not everyone has that same experience.
"So this test identifies where there are faults, where there are failings, as well as where things are working well so that hospitals know what they need to do to make sure everybody gets the same great service."
A new test designed to shine the spotlight on poor care, and due to be published today is an "historic" moment for the NHS, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said today.
Mr Hunt added: "We will eventually know what patients think about almost every ward, at every hospital, across the country. This simple test will throw a spotlight on both good and poor care, and sends a clear signal to every NHS organisation that patients must come first every time.
"This milestone moment is a key plank in our wider campaign to make sure that patients' voices are heard at every level of the NHS. Sir Bruce Keogh's recent review placed particular weight on patient feedback, and the CQC's new inspections will have patients playing a central part."
The Friends and Family Test is a key part of the solution to driving up standards in hospitals, NHS England's national director for patients and information said today, after it was revealed the report would be published for the first time today.
Tim Kelsey said:
At the heart of the tragedy of Mid Staffordshire was one simple lesson: the NHS has got to do better at listening to patients and doing something about what they say.
This is a radical response, a potential game changer. It creates a direct conversation and gives NHS staff the opportunity to respond quickly to what they are being told. Patients can also use the information to see what others are saying about the services.
We hope to encourage a patient-led revolution in healthcare, driven by the transparency, better information and public participation in design of services.
A new test designed to shine the spotlight on poor care will be published for the first time today.
The first wave of the "Friends and Family" test have uncovered some "shocking and eye opening" cases of maltreatment in NHS hospitals, reports suggest.
Patients are simply asked whether they would recommend the hospital where they were treated to their loved ones.
Each hospital will be given a score based on patient satisfaction levels, and labelled as average, or among the worst or best.