In April this year the government published the results from an NHS ‘Friends and Family Test’ which gave over 400,000 patients the opportunity to rate their hospital by providing feedback on whether or not they would recommend the hospital to a friend or family member.
However, the government’s flagship test has come under scrutiny after critics of the test have branded it ‘meaningless’ for a variety of reasons.
Sky News found that although Chase Farm Hospital, North London, was given a negative overall score on the test, the majority of people would have recommended it. When investigated further it was found that the reason behind this was due to votes only being counted as positive if the patient had stated they would “strongly agree” when asked if they would recommend the hospital. Votes where people had stated they would “agree” to recommend the hospital but “not strongly” were counted as neutral votes and therefore don’t count towards the positive rating.
Furthermore, it was found that in some cases wards were given negative ratings when only one patient had responded, meaning the test didn’t show a fair representation of the hospital overall. People have also criticised the test as it doesn’t state the reasons why patients are likely or unlikely to recommend a hospital, meaning their reasons for not recommending it could be due to a lack of car parking spaces, rather than poor care being given.
Although the tests don’t show exactly where the problems lie within the hospitals, the people behind the survey have said that getting figures every month will improve standards. Dr Tim Kelsey of the NHS Commissioning Board stated “This is how we’re going to drive an improvement in healthcare; it’s by listening to the patient on the ward and in the A&E department so that doctors and nurses on the front line can really focus on improvements in care”.
Despite criticisms, studies that look at patient care have previously revealed severe problems in certain NHS hospitals. Back in February a report regarding the care provided by Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust was published, which showed that patients were often neglected due to the Trust being preoccupied with cost cutting, targets and processes, which subsequently saw the Trust lose sight of its fundamental responsibility to provide safe care. The report, known as the Francis Report, also revealed a culture of failed management where poor medical practice was ignored and patient complaints were either dismissed or overlooked.
These findings were particular disturbing for me, Dr Tariq Drabu Dentist, to hear as I have formerly worked at Stafford Hospital in the oral surgery department back in 1987. I found the staff to be wonderful and very supportive, which is why I am devastated to hear that the high standards that I once witnessed have not been maintained. I fundamentally believe in the ethos and values of the NHS and I am proud to be an NHS dentist in an area of high social deprivation and high needs. It is the high quality that myself and my staff have given patients over the last 15 years that has given my practice such a good reputation. As we are all registered with the GDC, The General Dental Council, we are committed to putting our patients’ needs first and offering quality, superb care. Because we are so dedicated to our patients we find it even more shocking that some members of the NHS at Stafford Hospital don’t share the same values that we do here at Langley Dental Group.
As the team leader, senior dentist and director of Langley Dental Group I always encourage an open and honest culture not just to my patients but also to my staff, where they should feel that they are always able to come forward without any fear of being judged, ignored or overlooked. Although there are currently doubts about the accuracy of the NHS Family and Friends Test, hopefully the results will eventually show us where the main problems in the NHS lie, in order for hospitals to be able to review the care they are offering patients and ultimately offer an outstanding, professional service, like the one here at Langley Dental Practice.
To keep up with all my latest news, be sure to follow me on twitter @TariqJDrabu