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Cameron announces patient rating system

Patients will be able to rate the treatment they receive in hospitals to ensure that people are treated with dignity and respect on wards, it will be announced today.

The simple “friends and family test” will ask whether patients would recommend their hospital to loved ones. The results will be published and hospital leaders who fail the test will be held to account.

Later today David Cameron will announce that the test will be rolled out across wards in England from April 2013.

The prime minister said the data will give patients a clear idea of where to get the best care.

The Nursing and Care Quality Forum, which was announced in January to address concerns about the way some patients are treated, wrote to Mr Cameron recommending the simple test.

The letter said: “It is critical that the NHS takes far greater notice of what people think about the quality of care they receive.

“An important way of doing this is asking people whether they would recommend the organisation where they have received care, should a loved one require treatment.

“We need to go further and faster with the friends and family test. We would like to see immediate roll out across the NHS with a view to developing a national measure as soon as practicable.”

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) welcomed the new test.

RCN chief executive and general secretary Dr Peter Carter said: “We endorse the friends and family test of NHS services which is an important measure of how people perceive the care they are provided by their organisation.

“We look forward to contributing to this work as it develops and there must be a focus on acting on these results to ensure that continuous improvements are made.

“Giving nurses the time and resources to care - for example freeing them up to guarantee that they spend dedicated time with their patients and get the right administrative support - is crucial in ensuring confidence in care providers.”

The Forum also recommended that nurses are recruited for their caring nature and compassion as well as their knowledge and skills.

Dr Carter added: “We are pleased to have been part of this important Forum which recognises that the vast majority of nurses provide excellent care.

“We welcome the recommendations which will build on this and improve the ability of nurses, by giving them the right resources and skills, to provide dignified and compassionate care across the board.”

Readers' comments (29)

  • tinkerbell

    who'd have thought but i totally agree with david cameron on this. It should have beed done a long time ago, but i hope the paperwork remains 'simple' and not just another piece of admin that takes away our time to be with the patient.

    Perhaps it could be done by the admin clerk who has no involvement in the patient care so that no one feels under any pressure and can feel free to give an honest opinion.

    Who would want to be nursed in a hospital that is getting bad reviews, who would want to eat in a restaurant with one?

    This will give some managers a chance to up their game and be accountable for what happens on the shop floor. If shabby care is being provided due to staff shortages i hope this will be reflected too and addressed, sadly i think some hospitals will be closed because they can't provide quality care and this would be sad if it is part of this governments agenda, when they should be doing it for the right reasons to promote better care for all across the country. It remains to be seen what comes out of it as far as failing hospitals are concerned.

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  • Hm, on the face of it this seems harmless enough but I wonder if it is the best use of resources (money) that could be better spent elsewhere. Cameron makes a great deal of `choice` but the reality for most people is they have limited choice when it comes to which hospital they go to.
    I hope this information is used to inform fully about the reasons for less favourable outcomes and used to provide more resources where needed not just to bash hard-pressed frontline staff with - I have my doubts though.

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  • I remember the 'Patients Charter'. Just a stick to beat nurses with. It never improved anything, just gave people the right to get nasty. Be careful what you endorse, it might seem good on the surface, but may have hidden depths.

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  • Patients have been giving 'feed back' about their hospitalisation experience for many years, and the outcome of that is..... what we see, and expect in hospitals today!

    Sadly, Cameron, as his predecessors, keep dishing out all these piles of questionnaires for us, and NHS staff to complete, but nothing ever beneficial happens as a result. It's just another 'paperwork' exercise.

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  • as has already been said there are already patient satisfaction cards available. This is all about a patients perception of care which differs from person to person and how can you recommend a hospital when you might of only stayed in for one night after a minor op.

    What will happen if one patient is offered a specific treatment, tells their friend about it and their friend is refused for very good reasons?

    You do often hear relatives say 'don't go to such and such a hospital, my gran died there'. Perhaps gran would have died anyway wherever she was but that has already made that hospital sound bad.

    When they roll out this scheme I hope they will ask patients and relatives for their suggestions how things can be done differently.

    What I find disrespectful is that everyone seems very keen to hear what patients and relatives think of the NHS but don't give a damn about what the staff think.

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  • I don't know if it is fair to compare a hospital to a restaurant rating.

    One patient may come in, sail through their treatment and everything is fab. Their 'loved one' may come to the same ward which then has an outbreak of noro, the op is postponed, the patient next door is confused and gets into other peoples bed and it's a very negative experience.

    Some things are completely out of our control, as is staffing and staff sickness. Will this be taken into account?

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  • Exactly Anonymous | 25-May-2012 3:09 pm

    Instead of giving questionnaires to patients give them to front line staff, listen to what is being said and act on it.

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  • anon 8.06.

    Patients are important but so are the staff (who are very often patients, people seems to forget that).

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  • Perhaps staff can fill out a form when a patient is particularly obnoxious.

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  • Already been there and done that!

    Hopefully this will work better than the American Management fad 'Customer is King' and patient feed- back questionnaire in the 1990s with glossy brochures explaining this to patients all the great services they could expect during their hospital stay, as well as printing on paper table napkins alongside a new hospital logo a picture of a particularly handsome and attractive frog with a golden and jewel-studded crown on its head!

    the hospital direction only passed back to us the complaints and never the compliments which they may also have received on occasion! This impacted negatively on the morale of our team. Fortunately we had plenty of positive oral reports from our patients who were highly satisfied with our care to keep us going and stimulate us to provide the best possible level of care and service. it could be that it was mainly those who had complaints who sent back the questionnaires in the first place. Some were justified and led to improvements but unfortunately the worst one, accompanied by a threat of legal action, was from a patient with complex mental health problems on our acute medical ward for whom we had limited specialist skills and resources but gave her as much extra time as our other work would allow and did our best to accommodate her psychological needs and very difficult behaviour, which included splitting, in addition to treating her medical diagnosis. The only mh support was one visit from a psychiatrist to look at her notes and check her medication and a very brief talk with her. Fortunately we had the support of a good hospital lawyer but it necessitated numerous meetings where management were less than supportive to our cause and the exchange of copious correspondence
    and gathering of information from each member of the team over a long period which took a considerable amount of time away from the care of our other patients.

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  • Can he not come up with anything better than this . Just another way to blame the nurses I was sent towork on a medical ward the other night having worked in orthopaedics for 30 years There was another s/n and 2 support workers who were crying all the time as they were so stressed The ward had 28 patients 27 of whom were confused and aggressive and trying to climb out of bed I rang the night manager insisting she came to the ward as it was unsafe She never came near It took 2 hours to do the medicines as the patients were continually spitting out their medication.I wonder what score we would have got I doubt it would have been little more than a 1 out of ten as it was an absolutely impossible situationand it took us all our time to keep the patients in bed.He needs to get his act together for more staff not keep finding ways to blame the nurses all the time. You cant do the impossible

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  • Anonymous | 26-May-2012 3:47 pm

    "He needs to get his act together for more staff not keep finding ways to blame the nurses all the time. You cant do the impossible"

    if he has no nursing knowledge and refuses to listen to what the experts on the subject such as yourself are trying to tell him nothing will change as he seems totally incapable of getting his act together and grasping what the basic needs are in the provision of patient care. All he sees and understands is money, saving, austerity and by some miracle good quality patient care which nurse and and must continue to provide even though the resources, including their health, motivation and energy levels are dwindling. His suggestions are just because he feels that it is expected of him to intervene and say something but most are meaningless and empty words.

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  • what would happen if a hospital got their 5 stars and everyone wanted to go there - blimey he'd have to open up more beds and employ more staff.

    am I the only one who is getting a bit bored and fed up with everyone jumping on the old NHS bandwagon.

    who does he think is going to collect and collate this information?

    i wonder how his government would rate if the public were asked.

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  • seems Cameron is rather a clot as far as health care is concerned. it might help if he listened to the front line experts to find out what the real and more realistic needs are to enable staff to do their job effectively instead of willy nilly imposing one wild and costly scheme after another in the hopes that one day one might just work by trial and error and in a hit or miss manner which is so pointless.

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  • what's the point in asking the question 'would you recommend this hospital to a friend' without wanting to know the reason behind their answer. Completely pointless exercise.

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  • I agree with the above, I thoroughly recommend this hospital because the nurses were very kind, pretty and caring, the food gourmet standards, clean sheets every day and I never had to lift a finger but I remained the focus of their attention for rather longer than anticipated because I got an infection!

    (No mention that it could have been a hospital acquired one of course or that the medical treatment may not have been up to scratch).

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  • During my stay in hospital the ward was freezing, the one and only shower didn't work and the food was dreadful but the nursing and medical care was fantastic so I wouldn't dream of rating it badly.

    If you don't enjoy your stay do you get offered a discount on the next one or a free cup of coffee and a sticky bun?

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  • Anonymous | 28-May-2012 9:10 am

    when I went on a flight and got poor service through no fault of the airline staff, which was put right immediately as best they could, and I hadn't even complained, I was met at the airport on my return flight with a bottle of champagne!

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  • Anonymous | 28-May-2012 10:45 am

    Anonymous | 28-May-2012 9:10 am

    I hasten to add, that was not in the UK!

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  • King Vulture

    Anonymous | 27-May-2012 7:14 pm

    what's the point in asking the question 'would you recommend this hospital to a friend' without wanting to know the reason behind their answer. Completely pointless exercise.


    I think the point is to allow patients to express their opinions, which would need to be 'in a narrative form' precisely because the reasons for satisfaction or annoyance would then be present.

    And the responses, would need to be used as comparatives - in the 'Why does this hospital/ward seem to get worse ratings from patients than other similar hospitals/wards ?'.

    And the answer to that question, must start by confirming that 'similar' applies (so you need similar staffing levels, similar types of patient, etc) and it is a long way down that chain of possible factors, before you could attribute dissatisfaction directly to nurses (unless, of course, patients were all writing 'The nurses were often abusive' or something similar).

    You might also get 'It was great because ...' answers, revealing things patients valued more than they had been expected to.

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