PATIENTS using mental health and community health services are now able to give feedback on their experiences of care and treatment.
This comes as the Friends and Family Test (FFT), a real time patient feedback tool that is already operating for some hospital services such as maternity and A&E, continues to be rolled out across the NHS.
Mental Health and Community Health are the latest two areas to start gathering information from thousands of patients across the country – a move that comes a month after FFT went live across all 8,000 GP practices in England where up to one million people see their doctor every day.
From the beginning of January 2015, patients receiving treatment on mental health wards, or receiving medication, counselling or therapy for conditions such as depression, dementia, stress, drug or alcohol addiction, will all be able to give feedback on the services they receive. It will also include services for children receiving care for conditions like autism or support for things like eating disorders or the effects of bullying.
In terms of community health, a wide range of patients who receive care, treatment or rehabilitation services in their own homes or local community will be able to comment on their experiences. This includes patients receiving services from district nurses, health visitors and community psychiatric nurses.
FFT complements more traditional ways of finding out what patients think, such as the annual patient survey and local patient participation groups, but is ongoing and provides feedback very quickly to the healthcare professionals who can act on it.
Gill Green, Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust’s Director of Nursing and Operations, said: “This information will give us invaluable feedback on what service users think of the care and treatment they have received. It will help us to learn our areas of strength and where work needs to be done to improve – as seen through our service users’ eyes.”
Dr Geraldine Strathdee, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Mental Health, welcomed the introduction of FFT saying: “Providing a service that we feel proud to recommend to those we care for, is one of the greatest signs of quality.
“Transparency is at the heart of making mental health and community health services work well for patients. This includes transparency about the services and treatments on offer, the outcomes they deliver to patients, the experience that patients have when using them and the ways in which better care can be delivered.
“We are radically transforming mental health care in England and, by gathering and sharing information, we can ensure the services we provide are the best we can offer.”
Patients are able to use the FFT to provide anonymous feedback by answering a single question that asks them to rate the service and then add free-text comments to explain their views or make suggestions for how things can be improved. It is intended to capture positive comments as well as to identify areas where services or GP practices need to do better.
However, the real strength of the FFT lies in the rich feedback that patients are able to give direct to staff in near real time. The free-text comments offer a real opportunity to find out quickly what is working well and what can be improved, making local healthcare better for everyone.
More than 4.3 million pieces of feedback have already been received for hospital services, leading to thousands of large and small improvements. More than 1.7 million (1,746,698) people were in contact with specialist mental health services in 2013-14 so this latest expansion of FFT means many more people will have an opportunity to make their voices heard within the NHS (Heath & Social Care Information Centre, Mental Health Bulletin).
Notes to Editors
- FFT in mental health and community health covers patients in areas such as depression, dementia, stress, drug addiction and alcoholism and eating disorders. Services and treatments offered include psychiatry, drug and alcohol treatment, counselling, group therapies, children’s services (for the effects of bullying, eating disorders, management of autism etc.) and mental health wards (secure and otherwise).
- FFT in community health covers a wide range of services delivered in the community: district nurses, health visitors and midwives, walk-in clinics, some kinds of specialist dentistry, speech therapy, stop smoking services, sexual health clinics, children’s services such as post-natal care (breastfeeding etc.), child development, asthma and allergy clinics and so on.
- At Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, inpatients are given an electronic questionnaire to complete on discharge rating how likely they are to recommend the Trust to their friends and family. The majority of their community mental health services patients will receive a text message asking them to rate their care. Some services will also have a post box in reception areas and service users will be encouraged to complete a postcard to rate the service.
- The Friends and Family Test was launched in April 2013 and is already operating in hospital inpatient services, A & E departments and maternity services. From 1 April, it will also be available in other settings including hospital outpatient services, ambulance trusts and across patient transport.
- According to the latest figures (2013) on GP practices in England, there are 7962 practices covering 56,007,000 registered patients, an average of 7034 patients per practice. Community and mental health services are provided by 168 NHS trusts.
- Implementing the FFT is now a contractual requirement for NHS funded services.
- Many healthcare services and GP practices will simply use forms and a feedback collection box to collect feedback themselves. Others will use suppliers to send their patients text messages after appointments, inviting them to complete an anonymous form online.
- Data will be published every month on the NHS Choices website.
- More public information about the Friends and Family Test is available at http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/AboutNHSservices/Pages/nhs-friends-and-family-test.aspx. An animated film has been made to tell people about the FFT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWEKinEeyLs&list=PL6IQwMACXkj1NEbF89RTD6oF9nUDyZKwJ. There is a British Sign Language version of the film and a version of the film has also been made for use in mental healthcare services: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SikBu8j2x20&list=PL6IQwMACXkj1NEbF89RTD6oF9nUDyZKwJ
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